Who did we meet at Trollhätta? It is a strange story, and we will relate it.
We landed at the first sluice, and stood as it were in a garden laid out in the English style. The broad walks are covered with gravel, and rise in short terraces between the sunlit greensward: it is charming, delightful here, but by no means imposing. If one desires to be excited in this manner, one must go a little higher up to the older sluices, which deep and narrow have burst through the hard rock. It looks magnificent, and the water in its dark bed far below is lashed into foam. Up here one overlooks both elv and valley; the bank of the river on the other side, rises in green undulating hills, grouped with leafy trees and red-painted wooden houses, which are bounded by rocks and pine forests. Steam-boats and sailing vessels ascend through the sluices; the water itself is the attendant spirit that must bear them up above the rock, and from the forest itself it buzzes, roars and rattles. The din of Trollhätta Falls mingles with the noise from the saw-mills and smithies.
"In three hours we shall be through the sluices," said the Captain: "in that time you will see the Falls. We shall meet again at the inn up here."
We went from the path through the forest: a whole flock of bare-headed boys surrounded us. They would all be our guides; the one screamed longer than the other, and every one gave his contradictory explanation, how high the water stood, and how high it did not stand, or could stand. There was also a great difference of opinion amongst the learned.
We soon stopped on a ling-covered rock, a dizzying terrace. Before us, but far below, was the roaring water, the Hell Fall, and over this again, fall after fall, the rich, rapid, rushing elv—the outlet of the largest lake in Sweden. What a sight! what a foaming and roaring, above—below! It is like the waves of the sea, but of effervescing champagne—of boiling milk. The water rushes round two rocky islands at the top so that the spray rises like meadow dew. Below, the water is more compressed, then hurries down again, shoots forward and returns in circles like smooth water, and then rolls darting its long sea-like fall into the Hell Fall. What a tempest rages in the deep—what a sight! Words cannot express it!
Nor could our screaming little guides. They stood mute; and when they again began with their explanations and stories, they did not come far, for an old gentleman whom none of us had noticed (but he was now amongst us), made himself heard above the noise, with his singularly sounding voice. He knew all the particulars about the place, and about former days, as if they had been of yesterday.
"Here, on the rocky holms," said he, "it was that the warriors in the heathen times, as they are called, decided their disputes. The warrior Stärkodder dwelt in this district, and liked the pretty girl Ogn right well; but she was fonder of Hergrimmer, and therefore he was challenged by Stärkodder to combat here by the falls, and met his death; but Ogn sprung towards them, took her bridegroom's bloody sword, and thrust it into her own heart....