Enveloped in murky clouds, through which, at times, its red rays shot along the crested waves, the Norwegian sun was verging to the westward. From the frozen Baltic a cold wind swept down the Skager Rack, and, urged by the whole force of the Atlantic ocean, the sullen waves poured their foam upon the rocky bluffs and fissured crags that overhang the fiord of Christiana. In those days, a vessel in the fiord proved an object of the greatest interest to the inhabitants of the hamlet; and it was with growing fears that the anxious housewives and weatherwise fishermen of Bergen, a little wooden town situated on the bay of Christiana, watched the exertions made by the crew of a small crayer or brigantine, of some eighty tons or so, that under bare poles, or having at least only her great square spritsail and jib set, endeavoured to weather the rocky headland to the east, and gain their little harbour, within which the water lay smooth as a millpond, forming by its placidity a strong contrast to the boiling and heaving ocean without. The last rays of the September sun had died away on the pine-clad hills of Christiana and the cathedral spire of Bergen. Night came on sooner than usual, and the sky was rendered opaque by sable clouds, through which the red streaks of lightning shot red and forklike; while the hollow thunder reverberated afar off among the splintered summits of the Silverbergen. Then through the flying vapour, where, parted by the levin brand, the misty rain poured down in torrents on the pathless sea, and the goodwives of Bergen told their beads, and muttered a Hail Mary! or a prayer to Saint Erick the Martyr for the souls of the poor mariners, who, they were assured, would find their graves at the bottom of the deep Skager Rack ere morning brightened on the waters of the Sound. The royal castle of Bergen, a great square tower of vast strength and unknown antiquity, reared on a point of rock, still overlooks the town that in the year of our story was little more than a fisher hamlet. Swung in an iron grating on its battlement, a huge beacon fire had been lighted by order of the governor to direct the struggling ship; and now the flames from the blazing mass of tarred fagots and well-oiled flax streamed like a torn banner on the stormy wind, and lit up the weatherbeaten visages of a few Danish soldiers who were grouped on the keep, glinting on their steel caps and mail shirts, and on the little brass minions and iron drakes that peeped between the timeworn embrasures.