Letter

Astrup, Nikolai to Høst, Isabella
1913-03-07

Transcription:

Turid Hagelsteen

Translation:

Francesca Nichols

Page

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Transcription
Translation

Letter

Astrup, Nikolai to Høst, Isabella
1913-03-07
Brevs.531-66436, Nasjonalbiblioteket

18 Pages

Transcription: Turid Hagelsteen

Translation: Francesca Nichols

Transcription

Sandalstrand 7de marts 1913

        Kjære fru Höst!

Tusend tak for pengene. Vi var i den

aller yderste knipe nù. Jeg blev ganske 

ræd, da jeg fik Deres brev og hörte, at

De havde sendt penge – og her var ingen

komne, – jeg troede de maatte være komne

væk paa veien, – men saa fik jeg dem igaar,

de havde ligget paa Aalhus postaabneri

et par dage – da de var sendt feilagtig

fra Vasenden af, – og de har da antagelig

ogsaa ligget et par dage dernede, baade

da de paserede forbi paa opturen og paa til-

bage-veien hid. Ja bare jeg nù snart

kunde skaffe dem tilbage igjen. Det var 

jo altfor snildt af Dem at laane mig

penge nù, da De jo skal flytte og da sagtens 

trænger alle kontanter. Ja, jeg gratulerer!

Haaber I maa faa det lige koseligt i Eders

nye hjem som i Bergen – og om muligt –

endnù koseligere – omgivelserne blir vel

II

vakrere derude paa landet. Det skal bli

rigtig morsomt engang i vaar at faa lov at

besöge Dem – De talte om tapeter – jeg tror 

ikke mit raad vil være Dem til stort gavn;

thi De har sikkerlig meget bedre smag i 

slige ting end jeg, – et enkelt lyst tapet,

med hvidtligt eller melkeblaat med lidt 

mörkere blaa prikker tror jeg forresten

vilde staa godt til Deres hvide deilige möb-

ler – eller kanske et helt lyst blaat tapet 

med hvide prikker eller stjerner. I byerne

bruger man jo meget röde vægge – men det 

har jeg tænkt mig er af hensyn til stenkùls-

rögen og stövet – da en anden farve let vilde

blive skidden – jeg for min part finder denne

sedvanlige rödfarve trættende – i længden. – 

Hva De siger om Scheteligs i forbindelse 

med pengene forstaar jeg ikke rigtig – er nogen 

af disse penge fra Dem og nogen fra 

Scheteligs? – Fra Schetelig’s fik jeg jo igrùnden 

for mange penge ifjor, – saa jeg tænkte at

sende dem nogle træsnit, – nu faar jeg da kan-

ske sende dem et billede ogsaa – thi jeg vil jo

III

nödig staa i gjæld til disse forövrigt prægtige

mennesker. Jeg troede forresten, at de gode

mennesker havde faaet rent uvilje imod

mig, siden dengang jeg traf dem i Berlin – 

jeg hörte nemlig i Bergen at Schetelig havde

fortalt, at han traf mig der nede, og at

jeg levede bare af cognak o.s.v. – Det havde

ogsaa sin rigtighed dengang, – jeg havde gaaet 

i 4-5 aar med en elendig mave, som jeg 

stadig maatte pleie med kognak, hvis den

skulde give mig fred en liden stùnd – og det

traf sig slig, at jeg var sammen med Schetelig’s

paa en restaurant en dag, da jeg, som saa ofte

i den tid, ikke tùrde spise noget – men drak

3-4 glas kognak – for at jeg smertefrit

kùnde faa tale en liden stùnd med hyggelige 

mennesker. Jeg var jo sa vant til kognak 

i den tid, at jeg drak en halv flaske hver eneste 

morgen paa fastende hjærte, ùden at jeg mærke-

de noget i hovedet – og det faldt mig derfor

ikke ind, at nogen kúnde finde det paafaldende;

at jeg drak 4-5 glas kognak midt paa dagen.

Her paa Jölster er det almindeligt, at man drikker

IIII

en hel flaske mindst pr. mand, – naar

man en kveld har en liden sammen-

komst – 1 flaske kognak og 3 glas nafta

pleier man i regelen at lave til paa forhaand

til hver mand – har man raad til det, saa 

hörer der egentlig 10 flasker baieröl til en 

saadan portion og naar det skal være 

rigtig fint har man ogsaa ½ flaske 

rigabalsam til mands; men mange

drikker meget mere end dette paa en 

kveld. Jeg for min part drikker ikke

brændevin længer – jeg har ikke smagt en

draabe siden nytaar, og jeg har bestemt mig

paa, at jeg aldrig herefter skal smage brænde-

vin – jeg behöver det heller ikke for maven,

thi den er mærkværdig nok aldeles ùdmær-

ket, – jeg troede aldrig, jeg skùlde blevet bra

igjen, – jeg havde jo kolerine i 5 aar, og det

tog frygtelig paa kræfterne – og jeg tror ikke

jeg var bleven bra nù heller, hvis jeg ikke

var begyndt med tungt arbeide – Den 

danske agrar har fuldstændig ret, naar han

siger at "der fölger en særegen velsignelse med

V

spaden." Bare der ogsaa fúlgte mynt

med den – sùndhet fölger der i allefald 

med den. Det er forresten et tyngre arbeide end

nogen tror, at være gaardbrùger – især

paa en gaard som min, der hænger bratt

ned fra fjeldet som en væg. Hvilket slid 

er det ikke bare man skal faa draget ned 

lidt ved fra fjeldet i dyb sne og glat

underlag, saa man snart maa tage i af 

alle kræfter for at hale træet afsted, og snart 

holde igjen af alle kræfter, fordi det er for

brat, saa træet vil gaa af sig selv – og saa

glider man og falder i hvert öieblik, saa 

det er et ùnder, at man ikke forvrider en

fod eller knækker et ribben – nù ja sligt

hænder jo stadig her. Værst er det, naar man

skal drage ned höi fra sine fjeldlöer – da

gjælder det at kunne holde godt igjen, – 

jeg har gaaet og kviet mig længe for at

tage en af mine fjeldlöer – men det maa

nok snart til; arbeidshjælpen er for dyr

her – man kan næsten ikke faa leie folk 

for penge heller, – da her er stor tjenernöd, – da

VI

alle, som kan arbeide, reiser til Amerika

eller paa veiarbeide – eller söger sig arbeide

i byen eller i grùberne. Nù maa jeg ogsaa 

faa gjödselen údover, og det er ingen let sag her, 

hvor det er saa brat – jeg har holdt paa at sope

isammen sne og lave en slags vei, saa min 

lille hest kan drage lidt gjödsel ùdover,

men störstedelen maa jeg nok bære opover 

bakkerne. Saa har jeg havt adskilligt arbei-

de med denne veien op til tùn’s, – dette arbei-

de maatte jeg dog afbryde paa grùnd af frosten 

og tælen i jorden – men den er dog nù saa pas,

at jeg kan kjöre den – den gaar i tre svinger

opover de bratte bakker; – med tiden har jeg 

ogsaa tænkt at faa veie opover bakkerne

ovenfor húsene, saa jeg kan faa kjöre gjödse-

len udover og faa kjöre höiet i hus – men op

til fjeldlöerne faar jeg nok aldrig vei. Forresten 

kommer jeg nok kanske ikke til at faa beholde

den gaarden – man kan jo ikke egentlig tage den fra 

mig, da banken eier alt, – men det kommer 

an paa, om jeg kan greie bankrenterne i længden.

Saa har jeg ogsaa havt adskilligt arbeide om

VII

dagene med at tæmme min lille ùnghest, – 

det er et strævsomt arbeide, men rigtig

morsomt – et sligt halvvildt dyr, som

snart reiser sig paa to ben og vil trakke en

ned og snart igjen slaar bagùd med slig

kraft, at den kùnde dræbe en okse, hvis

hoverne traf godt; – stùndom vil den ùd-

for veien paa den nedre kant, og stùndom 

faar den det indfald at hoppe som en hare 

op om veigröften og op over bakker og skog.

Engel paastar, at jeg er langt mere glad i "Kviten" 

end i hende og Kari. Kari ja, hende spörger

De efter; – hùn vokser rigtig sterkt – og blir 

lang, men er noget tynd og bleg; – men det

kommer sig vel snart; thi nù har vi nettop

faaet solen igjen – det er dog ikke mere end

et par minutter om dagen endnù, at den titter

gjennem et fjeldskar. Kari har ogsaa faaet

se den saa vidt, – hùn trængte nok kanske

lidt mere sol og kanske lidt mere styrkende

mad ogsaa – her jo har jo været ikke saa lidet

smalhans i vinter – og Kari foragter al vor tarve-

lige mad med ùndtagelse af melken, som da ogsaa

har været en sand velsignelse for os i vinter. En

VIII

dag var det dog nær gaaet galt med vesle Kari

hùn var vist sulten stakkar, og da hùn saa

fandt en fyrstikæske, saa spiste hùn alt

det röde af fyrstikkerne, förend vi opdagede

det, – det var först da jeg fandt en hel haug 

med fyrstikker, som var saa underlig optyggede

i den röde ende, – at jeg forstod sammenhængen.

Hùn var da aldeles röd på tungen og helt 

ned i halsen og begyndte at blive saa stille

af sig – Engel mente dog, at det ikke var saa

farlig; thi hùn havde hört, at det kùn var

svovelstikkerne, som var giftige. Imidlertid

blev Kari blegere og blegere og maatte lægges.

Ud på dagen blev hùn rent daarlig og fik 

efter nogle timers forlöb frygtelige opkastelser, 

og alt, hvad hùn kastede op, var rödfarvet af 

fyrstikksatserne. – Jeg tror ikke hùn har været 

rigtig i vigör siden den historien, men hùn 

kommer seg nok snart; thi hùn hùn har hid-

til aldrig været nævneværdig syg i sammen-

ligning med andre börn i bygden. Engel deri-

mod "hangler" – det er nok plevritten, bron-

chiten og blodmangelen, som plager hende.

IX

Jeg blir nok nödt til at have tjenestepige

til stadighed for hendes skyld. Jeg selv er

det bedste – jeg nogentid har været – lidt 

kronisk forkjölelse og en smùle nervösitet –

især naar jeg tænker på den voksende gjæld,

renter her og renter der og lignende krav,

og saa hver gang jeg griber aldrig saa 

lidet til penselen. Jeg ærgrer mig stadig 

over St. Hansbilledet, som skùlde blive over-

smùrt slig – har forsögt at male det omigjen,

men har ikke opnaaet synderligt. Jeg er ikke

heldig i mine forsög paa nye træsnit heller.

Naar vaaren kommer, skal jeg tage en del 

skisser af mine tvende hjem og sende Dem 

og Deres datter – saa De kan faa se, hvor vakkert 

vi bor – jeg troede saa sikkert, I havde besögt os

i sommer, som var, og blev meget skùffet 

da jeg hörte, at I var reist til Østlandet. Jeg

havde jo ikke store bekvemmeligheder at byde

paa, men jeg havde talt med min gode ven 

Nilsen paa Vasendens hotel, og han lovede mig

et par værelser – han skyldte mig nemlig

en del penge – og jeg havde ogsaa talt med

föreren af dampskibet om at gaa indom mig förste

X

tùr fra Vasenden om morgenen og sidste 

tùr til Vasenden om kvelden – dette gjorde 

jeg for det tilfælde, at mine lokaliteter skùlde

vise sig at være for smaa, – jeg tror forresten

vi skal kùnne indrette os nogenlùnde bra,

om I engang vilde gjöre os den ære at besöge

os – Jeg har desværre ikke Vasendens hotel 

at ty til nú længer; – thi Nilsen stakkar

er nù gaaet fra Hotellet – det blev tilligemed

gaarden solgt til den skinhellige satan,

som eier Skei’s hotel – han har længe 

arbeidet paa Nilsen’s rùin, – nù har

han da bùgten og begge ender, hvad turist-

trafikken angaar. Jeg tapte jo en del penge

paa Nilsen – men jeg kunde ikke tabe dem paa

en bedre mand.

Kan De sige mig navnet paa en dygtig jurist.

Haùkedölerne (nabobygden) har taget fra os

Sanddölinger en fjeldbotten med ùdmærket

beite og et vand, som vilde give kraft nok til

hele bygden – denne botten har været Sandals

eiendom fra urtiden, men vi har nù tabt 

den, fordi en del Sanddölinger var saa 

dùmme at gaa ind paa at lade sagen gaa

til volgiftsret – her tapte Sandölingerne

XI

fordi Haukedölingerne gav ùdskiftnings-

formand Havnen rigelig at drikke – (han

er nemlig meget fordrùkken) – nù har jeg

og nogle andre, som ikke har skrevet ùnder,

tænkt at benytte vor ret ùanseet volgifts-

dommen, og det gjaldt da at faa vide,

paa hvad maade, vi kunde gjöre protest mod 

voldgiftsdommen – om dette kan gjöres

ved tinglæsning eller om man maa stevne til

kommision. Det er snestorm ùde om dagene

kjödmeiserne sidder langs vinduskarmene og

fryser; ryperne sidder og kryper sammen

lige ovenfor hùsene, – min svoger, som bor hos 

mig nù, – fangede igaar en rype med hænderne;

den var nok forkommen af ùveiret og sögte ind

under en sten, hvor han tog den – nù sidder

den inde her i stùen i en kasse med sprinkler for

og drikker vand – til stor fryd for Kari, som kalder 

den "bane" (barnet). Her er en masse vildt, men 

jeg har ikke rigtig hjærte til at skyde det – skjöndt 

haren er slem at gjöre ùgagn, idet den gnager 

barken af mine faa æbletrær og engen graver den 

sneen af og spiser græsroden, og om natten gaar

den ind i ùdhùsene vore, og tager til takke med alskens

XII

affald, og i höet liker den sig naturligvis storartet,

men den har en slem fiende i katten, som 

stadig ligger paa lùr efter den. I fjor vaar

sad aarhanen en aarle morgenstùnd og

spillede paa hustaget ved siden af ljoren – den er 

ellers skogens skyeste vildt – iaar har man 

skúdt flere af dem her – jeg tænker paa at 

fredlyse min skog og ùdmark for jagt – da det 

jo er ærgerlig at höre smeld i smeld hver morgen

og se alle de belæssede jægere komme ned 

forbi hùsene med de stakkars ryperne – og endnù 

værre er det, at jeg stadig hörer, at man finder

skamskùdte fugle her omkring. Jeg har en stor

bjerk lige ved löen, der har sjærerne et vældigt 

rede, som vistnok er bygget paa i mange genera-

tioner; – de er begyndt saavidt iaar – venter tidlig

vaar – men nù har uveiret fordrevet dem – jeg haa-

ber dog de kommer tilbage. De röde dompapper sidder

saa lùbne ùdenfor i piletræt – de er ellers 

skjældne i Jölster – Engel har aldrig seet dem för – 

men her er en mængde af dem. Húsene her

staar yderst paa en bratt bakke og op over bakken

staar en hel liden skog af höie hvidstammede

XIII

birke, som rækker op til hùsene med sine kroner,

saa vi sidder formelig midt i mellem trætopper-

ne, og om vaaren blir her deiligt at have 

vindùerne aabne og höre maatrosten uden for

i trækronerne, – den kommer altid hid först; thi

her er det förste sted i Jölster, hvor sneen gaar.

Nedenfor hùsene i bakken staar ogsaa en vældig

hæg, – jeg tror det er den störste, jeg har seet, – den 

blomstrer för alle andre hægger, og konen til 

den forrige eier her sa, at det, som hùn mest 

sörgede over at forlade her, var hæggen, – thi den

livede saa op om vaaren med sin hvide pragt.

De kjender vel ikke nogen i Bergen som gjerne

vilde have foret en del gjæs og kalkùner til

sommeren – jeg skulde fore dem omtrent gratis

(iallefald gjæssene) – da jeg fra juni til oktober

har store beitemarker og ret til benyttelse af

et lidet fiskevand. Er ikke Höst fisker om 

sommeren – i saafald er her glimrende anled-

ning; thi jeg har fiskeret baade i jölstervandet og 

i et lidet fjeldvand, hvor det myldrer af fisk, da

der sjælden fiskes og örreten der er af en særlig 

god kvalitet. Jeg tænker med tiden at bygge 

mig et lidet hùs der oppe, – jeg maa have en

XIIII

sæter der alligevel og en liden fjös, – og en masse

gjæs har jeg tænkt at have, – da der er ypperlig

havnegang til dem deroppe, – men alt saadant 

koster penge, og jeg maa först se at holde de

værste krav fra livet, – jeg har faaet en voldsom

gjæld, og det er med nöd jeg klarer renterne – og

flere af gjældsposterne er saa store, at jeg "ryger", 

hvis man driver mig, – havde jeg enda ikke

været saa dùm at asùrere mig og mine saa

höit, – jeg maa ùd med næsten 300 kr. om aaret 

i præmier – jeg har jo större præmier end andre

paa grùnd av mine daarlige lunger, – som jeg dog 

for öieblikket ikke har grùnd til at klage over.

Jeg har allerede givet ud omtrent alt, hvad jeg

fik hos Dem til at dække gjældsposter – vi har

levet saa længe uden penge, at jeg tænker at friste

det en stund til. Men en gjæld paa 8000 kr. er 

ikke let at dække, – det er som draaber i havet, 

det lille jeg kan klare, – jeg solgte nettop for 8 kr.

i skind, og naar jeg tænker paa arbeidet og strævet, 

og at dette er akkurat tusende delen af, hvad jeg skyl-

der, saa begynder jeg saa smaat at faa forstand paa 

penge og penges værdi – det har jeg igrùnden aldrig

havt för – derfor er jeg kommen i en slig gjæld.

XV

En fattig nabo laante mig saa meget, at jeg klarte

en forfalden assùrancepræmie, og han var den

förste, jeg betalte igjen, da jeg fik pengene fra 

Dem – han blev rent glad – han troede vist de penge

var forlorne. Men jeg skylder saa ùendelig – men 

jeg har dog tænkt nú at forsöge i det længste at 

undgaa konkùrs. "Lúndes Enke" – Hægrenes er nù

mine værste krævere – da jeg skylder denne land-

handel over 500 kr. – jeg har forresten den tro,

at man paa handelstæderne her har benyttet sig

af min daarlige hukommelse og ùpraktiskhed

i pengesager; – thi jeg har stadig betalt ganske

store afdrag, uden at gjælden vil minke, – og saa

er man meget ùvillige til at give specificerede

regninger –. Jeg har malt lidt paa det store 

billede til Deres svoger, men jeg er misfornöiet

med det, – jeg har tabt det oprindelige i billedet –

der kommer nù også an paa, om han vil like

motivet. Jeg skal selvfölgelig være billig paa det, – 

men jeg vil ikke sælge det, hvis jeg ikke faar det til

nogenlùnde slig, som jeg vil have det – og det er

vanskeligt for mig for tiden – det blir værre og værre 

at male, synes jeg – eller er det kraverne, som vokser

XVI

jeg pröver ofte at tröste mig dermed, men

kanske det er en forfængelig tröst. –

Meyer begynder at blive ùtaalmodig kanske? Jeg

har tænkt at lade ham faa mine billeder af

Svarstad og Sörensen i pant saa længe, og saa

har jeg tænkt at lade ham faa træsnit for mel-

varer, hvis han vil bytte – 1 sæk hvedemel koster 

vel 22 kr. og en sæk havre 17 kr. – til sammen ca.

40 kr. – det kùnde passe for hvert tryk at faa 

en slig portion – klid er jo billigt 10–11 kr. pr. sæk,

og jeg fik vel ikke mere end en kvart sæk deraf.

De har nok hört af Korsvold, forstaar jeg, at rotterne

havde været i melet – ja det blev jo liggende

en tid paa dampskibsexpeditionen, og halve hvede-

melsækken gik omtrent. Jeg var dog mest glad

i klidden og Engel baker mig kaker deraf, – jeg lever 

næsten bare af slige kaker fortiden – en mand her, 

som fik smage dem, blev saa begeistret over dem, at

han skrev efter en sæk hvedeklid, men den kostede 

bare 11 kr. men, saa var den ikke fuldt saa pen som 

den jeg fik fra Meyer – Vilde De være saa venlig 

at spörge Meyer, hvad slig hveteklid – (den röde

skalagtige) – vil koste pr. sæk – her er flere, som vil

have sligt godt klid, – den, man faar kjöbe i det

XVII

vestlandske kjöbelag, er finmalet og smager ikke

fuldt saa godt, – den koster 10-11 kr. nù; – hvis 

man kùnde faa Meyers klid finmalet vilde

man gjerne betale et par kroner mere for den, –

da den er af en finere smag. Jeg skylder

ogsaa Meyer for to sækker för, – det var korn; – 

og jeg tænkte da, at naar jeg engang i tiden faar

lavet nye tryk, saa vil det være passelig at

betale ham med 3 tryk for det hele –.

Svarstads og Sörensens billeder vilde jeg da give 

ham i pant for de 500 kr., han laante mig (for

2 aar siden til hösten). Han vilde jo ogsaa

have en del pennetegninger af mig – eller andre 

tegninger. Jeg har studeret paa, om jeg ikke kunde

slaa lidt mynt i Bergen paa at lave exlibris, –

jeg kunde lave dem i træsnit, – saa kùnde folk

faa pladerne og trykke dem selv, – eller lade en

bogtrykker trykke dem, – det vilde jo blive noget

nyt; – jeg skal gjöre nogen udkast og skjære dem

i træ og sende Dem nogle tryk, saa De kùnde se,

                     10–20 kr. pr. exlibrisplade eller 50 öre pr. tryk eller visitkort. 

hvad De troede om sagen. Det var jo bedre end at 

lave billeder for penge; thi det kvier jeg mig for.

Lev da vel og hils Deres mand og datter hjærteligst

fra mig. Engel beder hilse og takke Dem hjærteligst.

Bedste hilsen. Deres hengivne Nik. Astrup

Konvolutt, framside:

Fru Isabella Höst

Adr. Overlærer Sigurd Höst

Welhavens gate 30

Bergen

Translation

Sandalstrand 7th March 1913

        Dear Mrs. Höst!

Many thanks for the money. We were in the

most desperate straits now. I became very 

frightened, when I received Your letter and heard, that

You had sent money – and none had arrived

here, – I thought it must have gotten

lost on the way, – but then I received them yesterday,

they had been delayed at the Aalhus postal service

for a couple of days – as they were mistakenly sent

from Vasenden, – and they have probably

also been delayed a few days down there, both

when they passed by on their way up and on the re-

turn route here. If only I might soon

be able to return them. It was 

too kind of You to lend me

money now, as You are moving and presumably 

have need of every bit of cash. Indeed, congratulations!

Hope You will be just as comfortable in Your

new home as in Bergen – and if possible –

even more comfortable – the surroundings will be

II

more beautiful out there in the countryside. It will be

great fun to be permitted to visit You some time 

in the spring – You spoke of wallpaper – I do 

not think my advice will be of great benefit to You;

for You have certainly much better taste in 

such things than I, – a simple light wallpaper,

with whitish or milky-blue with slightly 

darker blue dots I think

would go well with Your lovely white fur-

niture – or perhaps a completely light blue wallpaper 

with white dots or stars. In the cities

it is customary to have very red walls – but I 

have thought that it is because of the smoke

and dust from coal – since another colour would easily

become dirty – I myself find this

common red colour boring – in the long run. – 

What You say about Scheteligs in connection 

with the money I don’t quite understand – is some 

of this money from You and some from 

Scheteligs? – From Schetelig’s I actually received 

too much money last year, – so I thought of

sending them some woodcuts, – now I should per-

haps send them a picture as well – as I am

III

reluctant to remain in debt to these distinguished

people. I believed incidentally, that the good

people had become quite disdainful of

me, from the time I met them in Berlin – 

I heard in fact in Bergen that Schetelig had

recounted, that he had met me down there, and that

I lived on cognac alone etc. – It was

also true back then, – I had suffered 

for 4-5 years from stomach cramps, which I 

had to continuously ply with cognac, if it 

was to leave me in peace for a little while – and as

luck would have it, I was together with Schetelig’s

at a restaurant one day, when, as so often

back then, I did not dare to eat anything – but drank

3-4 glasses of cognac – so that I might painlessly

be able to converse briefly with agreeable 

people. I was so used to cognac 

back then, that I drank half a bottle every single 

morning on an empty stomach, without notic-

ing any effect to my head – and it therefore did not

occur to me, that anyone might find it out of the ordinary;

that I drank 4-5 glasses of cognac in the middle of the day.

Here in Jölster it is common, to drink

IIII

at least a whole bottle per man, – when

of an evening one has a little gather-

ing – 1 bottle of cognac and 3 glasses of naphtha

is the rule when calculating the quantity ahead of time

for each man – if one can afford it, then  

10 bottles of Bayer beer are normally included in 

such a portion and when one wishes to be 

lavish one also offers a ½ bottle of 

Riga balsam per person; but many

drink much more than this in one 

evening. I myself do not drink

liquor any longer – I have not tasted a

drop since New Year’s, and I have decided

that hereafter I shall never taste liq-

uor again– I do not need it for my stomach either,

as it is strangely enough absolutely 

fine, – I never thought, I would be well

again, – I had cholera for 5 years, and it

was a terrible drain on my energy – and I do not believe

I would have recovered now either, had I not

begun with heavy labour – The 

Danish agrarian is completely correct, when he

says that "along with the spade comes a particular

V

blessing." If only cash came with it

as well – good health accompanies it 

at least. Incidentally it is much heavier work than

anyone believes, to be a farmer – in particular

on a farm like mine, which stretches steeply

down from the mountain like a wall. What drudgery

it is just to drag some 

wood down from the mountain in deep snow and a slippery

surface, so that one has to use all 

one’s strength to get the tree moving, and then to

hold it back with all one’s strength, because it is too

steep, and the tree will take off on its own – and then 

one slips and falls every second, so 

it is a wonder, that one does not twist a

foot or break a rib – well in fact such things

happen often here. What’s worse, is when one

has to drag hay down from the mountain sheds – then

it is a question of having a good restraining grip, – 

I have long been putting off 

dealing with one of my mountain sheds – but I will

have to soon; hiring labour is too expensive

here – it is nearly impossible to hire a hand 

for money either, – as there is a great shortage of servants, – for

VI

everyone, who can work, leaves for America

or to do road construction – or seeks work

in the city or in the mines. Now I must also 

spread the manure, and that is no easy task here, 

where it is so steep – I have been sweeping

together snow and made a road of sorts, so that my 

little horse can spread some manure around,

but most of it I will have to carry up 

the slopes. And then I have strived considerably

constructing this road up to the yard, – this work

I was forced to interrupt due to the cold 

and the frost in the ground – however it is good enough now,

that I can drive on it – it has three swings

as it ascends up the steep slopes; – in time I have 

also thought of having a road that continues up the slopes

above the cabins, so that I can transport the ma-

nure and spread it and transport the hay into the barn – but it

is unlikely I will ever have a road up to the mountain sheds. Incidentally

it’s possible I may not be able to keep

it the farm – one cannot actually take it away from 

me, as the bank owns everything, – but it is a

question of whether I can manage the bank interests in the long run.

Then I have strived considerably these

VII

days taming my little yearling, – 

it is a difficult job, but quite

amusing – such a half-wild animal, that

first rises up on two legs wishing to trample

one down and then soon kicks it hindquarter with such

force, that it might kill an ox, if

the hooves struck their mark; – sometimes it runs 

off the road over the lower edge, and sometimes 

it gets the notion to hop like a hare 

over the ditch and upwards over the slopes and forest.

Engel claims, that I am much fonder of "Kviten" ["Whitey"] 

than of her and Kari. You ask

about Kari; – she is growing quite strong – and will be 

tall, but is a little thin and pale; – but that

will soon improve; since we have just now 

gotten the sun back – although it is not more than

for a few minutes during the day as yet, that it peeks

through a mountain crevice. Kari has

seen it just barely, – she could perhaps use

a little more sun and a little more nourishing

food as well – here its true there has been a good deal 

of stinting this winter – and Kari despises all our sim-

ple food with the exception of milk, which has 

been a true blessing for us this winter. One

VIII

day however things nearly ended badly for little Kari

she was probably hungry the poor thing, and when she

found a box of matches, she chewed all 

the red parts off the matches, before we discovered

it, – it wasn’t until I found a whole pile 

of matches, with such strange teeth marks 

in the red ends, – that I understood what had happened.

Her tongue had become completely red and it continued all 

the way down her throat and she had become very

quiet – Engel believed however, that it was not so

dangerous; for she had heard, that it was only 

the old type of sulphur matches that were poisonous. In the meantime

Kari grew more and more pale and had to be put to bed.

Later in the day she became much worse and  

in the course of a few hours she vomited violently, 

and everything, that she vomited, was coloured by 

the match heads. – I don’t believe she has 

regained her vigour since that episode, but she

will soon recover; for she she has un-

til now never been especially ill com-

pared to other children in the village. Engel on the

other hand is "ailing" – it is most likely the pleurisy, bron-

chitis and anaemia that afflict her.

IX

I will need to hire a housemaid

continuously for her sake. I myself am

in the best form – I have ever been – a slight 

chronic cold and a bit of anxiety –

especially when I think of the growing debt,

interest here and interest there and related claims,

and then every time I ever so briefly 

grab hold of a brush. I am still fretting 

over the Midsummer Eve picture, which should have been 

painted over – have attempted to paint it again,

but have not gotten very far. I have not had

luck in my attempts at new woodcuts either.

When spring arrives, I shall make a number of

sketches of my two homes and send [them to] You 

and Your daughter – so that You will be able to see, how beautiful 

it is here – I was so sure, You would visit us

this summer, this past summer, and was greatly disappointed 

when I heard, that You had gone to East Norway. It’s

true I did not have many comforts to

offer, but I had spoken with my good friend 

Nilsen at Vasenden’s hotel, and he promised me

a couple of rooms – he owed me some money

you see – and I had also talked to

the skipper of the steamship about stopping by my place on 

X

the first route from Vasenden in the morning and the last 

route to Vasenden in the evening – this I did 

in the event, that my locations might

appear too small, – I believe incidentally

that we would be able to arrange things quite well,

if You would do us the honour one day of visiting

us – Unfortunately I do not have Vasenden’s hotel 

to resort to any longer; – because Nilsen poor chap

has now left the Hotel – it was in addition to

the farm sold to the sanctimonious Satan,

who owns Skei’s hotel – he has for years 

worked to bring about Nilsen’s rùin, – and now he

has the bay and both ends of the lake, when it comes to tourist

traffic. I lost a certain amount of money

on Nilsen – but I could not have lost them on

a better man.

Can You tell me the name of a capable lawyer.

Haùkedöling-ites (a neighbouring village) have taken from us

Sanddöling-ites a glen with excellent

grazing pastures and a stream, that would provide enough power for

the entire village – this glen has been Sandal’s

property from time immemorial, but we have now lost 

it, because a number of Sanddöling-ites were so 

unwise as to agree to let it go

to arbitration court – there the Sandöling-ites lost it

XI

because the Haukedöling-ites plied the redistribution

chairman Havnen abundantly with drink – (he

is quite a drunkard you see) – now I and

a few others, who have not signed,

have planned to take advantage of our rights despite the arbitration

ruling, and what we need is to find out,

in what way, we might make a protest against 

the arbitration ruling – if this can be done

by announcing it publicly or whether one has to summon the

commission. A snowstorm is blowing outdoors these days

the great tits are sitting along the windowsills

freezing; the grouse sit huddled together

right above the cabins, – my brother-in-law, who is living 

with me now, – caught a grouse with his bare hands yesterday;

it was probably worn-out due to the storm and sought cover

under a stone, where he caught it – it is now placed

in the living room in a crate with bars

and is drinking water – to Kari’s great delight, who calls 

it "baba" (baby). We have plenty of wildlife here, but 

I don’t really have the heart to shoot it – although

the hare is a devil of a mischief-maker, as it gnaws 

the bark off my few apple trees and in the meadow digs the 

snow away and eats the roots of the grass, and at night it 

gets into our outlying houses, shows its appreciation with all kinds of

XII

droppings, and naturally has a great time of it in the hay,

but it has a wicked foe in the cat, who 

is always lying in wait for it. Last spring

a black grouse sat one early morning and 

strutted and displayed his feathers on the roof next to the smoke hole – it is 

normally the shyest animal in the forest – this year 

several of them have been shot here – I have considered 

prohibiting hunting in my forests and outlying fields – as it 

is unsettling to hear gunshot after gunshot every morning

and see all the hunters come down past 

the cabins heavily laden with those poor grouse – and what’s

even worse, I frequently hear, that one often finds

maimed birds around here. I have a large

birch right next to the barn, in it the magpies have a huge 

nest, which is evidently added to over many genera-

tions; – they have barely begun this year – are awaiting early

spring – but now bad weather has driven them away – I hope

they return. The red bullfinches sit

so plump outside in the willow – they are usually 

a rare sight in Jölster – Engel has never seen them before – 

but there are a lot of them here. The cabins here

are built on a steep hill and on the hill

is a whole little grove of white-trunked

XIII

birches, which reach up to the cabins with their crowns,

so we actually sit in the midst of the tree-

tops, and in the spring it is enchanting to have 

the windows open and hear the song thrush outside

in the treetops, – it always arrives here first; because

this is the first place, where the snow melts in Jölster.

Below the cabins on the slope is also a huge

bird cherry tree, – I believe it is the biggest I have ever seen, – it 

blossoms before all the other bird cherries, the wife of 

the previous owner here said, that what she mourned

the most when leaving this place, was the bird cherry, – because it

livened things up in the spring with it white splendour.

You don’t by any chance know someone in Bergen who would 

like to have some geese and turkeys put out to feed this

summer – I would feed them practically for nothing

(at least the geese) – since from June to October I

have large grazing fields and the right to use 

a little fishing lake. Is not Höst a fisherman in 

summer – in that case there are excellent oppor-

tunities here; I have fished both in Jölstervandet and 

in a little mountain brook, which are teeming with fish, as

they are rarely fished and the trout there is of a particularly 

good quality. I have thought of eventually building 

myself a little cabin up there, – I need to have a

XIIII

grazing farm up there in any case and a little cowshed, – and I have

planned to have lots of geese, – as there is a splendid

pasture for them up there, – but all of this 

costs money, and I must first see to keeping the worst

demands of life at bay, – I have accumulated an exorbitant 

debt, and it is by the hair of my teeth that I manage to pay the interest – and

several of the debits are so large, that I will "go under" 

if anyone pushes me, – if only I had not 

been so stupid as to insure myself and my family for

such a high sum,– I must expend nearly 300 kr. each year 

in premiums – I have larger premiums than others

because of my poor lungs, – which for the moment 

I nevertheless have no reason to complain about.

I have already expended almost everything, that I

received from You in order to cover the debits – we have

lived for so long without money, that I am thinking of risking

it for yet a while. But a debt of 8000 kr. is

not easy to cover, – it is like a drop in the ocean, 

the little I can manage, – I just sold pelts

for 8 kr., and when I think of the work and the toil, 

and that this constitutes precisely one thousandth of what I

owe, I just barely begin to get a sense of 

money and what it is worth – which I never really

had before – which is why I have ended up with such debts.

XV

A poor neighbour lent me enough, so that I managed

an overdue insurance premium, and he was the

first, whom I repaid, when I received the money from 

You – he was overcome with joy – he evidently believed the money

was lost. But I owe infinitely more – yet

I have nevertheless planned to avoid going bankrupt

for as long as possible. "Lunde’s Widow" – Hægrenes are at present

my worst creditors – as I owe this general

store over 500 kr. – Incidentally I believe,

that the merchants here have taken advantage

of my poor memory and impractical nature

in money matters; – for I have continuously paid quite

large instalments, without diminishing the debt, – and then

they are very reluctant to provide specified

bills –. I have painted a little on the large 

picture for Your brother-in-law, but am not satisfied 

with it, – I have lost the original picture –

there is also the matter of, whether he will like

the motif. I will of course offer it cheap, – 

but I will not sell it, if I cannot achieve

something close to my satisfaction – and it is

difficult for me lately – it becomes increasingly difficult 

to paint, I feel – or is it the expectations, that increase

XVI

I often try to comfort myself with that thought, but

perhaps it is a futile comfort. –

Is Meyer beginning to be impatient? I

have thought of letting him have my pictures by

Svarstad and Sörensen as security for the time being, and in addition

I have thought to let him have woodcuts for flour

products, if he is willing to trade – 1 sack of wheat flour costs 

about 22 kr. and a sack of oats 17 kr. – together approximately

40 kr. – it might be fitting to receive such a portion 

for each print – bran is of course cheaper 10–11 kr. per sack,

and I did not receive more than a quarter of a sack of it.

You have heard from Korsvold, I understand, that the rats

had been in the flour – it had been laid over

for a period on the steamship expedition, and about half a 

sack of wheat flour was lost. I am nevertheless most fond

of the bran and Engel bakes cakes with it for me, – I live 

almost exclusively on such cakes lately – a man here, 

who had tasted them, was so enthusiastic about them, that

he ordered a sack of wheat bran, but it cost 

only 11 kr. but, it was not nearly as good as 

what I received from Meyer – Would You be so kind 

as to ask Meyer, how much the wheat bran – (the red

shell-like type) – would cost per sack – there are many here, who would

XVII

West Norway consumers coop, is finely ground and does not taste

quite as good, – it costs 10-11 kr. at present; – if

one could have Meyer’s bran finely ground one

would gladly pay a few kroner more for it, –

as it has a finer taste. I also 

owe Meyer for two sacks of feed, – it was grain; – 

and I thought then, that when I eventually am able

make new prints, it would be fitting to 

pay him with 3 prints for the whole lot –.

Svarstad and Sörensen’s pictures I would then give 

him as security for the 500 kr., which he lent me (two

years ago this autumn). He also wanted

som pen drawings from me – or other 

drawings. I have speculated about, whether I might not

make a little cash in Bergen by making bookplates, –

I could make them as woodcuts, – and then people

could have the blocks and print them themselves, – or have a

printing house print them, – it would be a new

idea; – I will make a few drafts and carve them

in wood and send You a few prints, so that You might see,

                  10–20 kr. per ex libris block or 50 öre per print or visiting card. 

what I had in mind. It would be better than 

making pictures for money; because I loathe to do that.

Live well then and relay my warmest greetings to Your husband and 

daughter. Engel asks me to send her greetings and to thank You most sincerely.

Best wishes. Your devoted Nik. Astrup

Envelope, front:

Mrs. Isabella Höst

Adr. Headmaster Sigurd Höst

Welhavens gate 30

Bergen