for us, Lyova?” I would feel embarrassed and go out without

A sunset seen in the sublime wildness of Icelandic scenery has a peculiarly beautiful effect. Over these vast plains, divested of trees or shrubs, covered with dark lava, and shut in by mountains almost of a sable hue, the parting sun sheds an almost magical radiance. The peaks of the mountains shine in the bright parting rays, the jokuls are shrouded in the most delicate roseate hue, while the lower parts of the mountains lie in deep shadow, and frown darkly on the valleys, which resemble a sheet of dark blue water, with an atmosphere of a bluish-red colour floating above it. The most impressive feature of all is the profound silence and solitude; not a sound can be heard, not a living creature is to be seen; every thing appears dead. Throughout the broad valleys not a town nor a village, no, not even a solitary house or a tree or shrub, varies the prospect. The eye wanders over the vast desert, and finds not one familiar object on which it can rest.

for us, Lyova?” I would feel embarrassed and go out without

To-night, as at past eleven o'clock we reached the elevated plain, I saw a sunset which I shall never forget. The sun disappeared behind the mountains, and in its stead a gorgeous ruddy gleam lighted up hill and valley and glacier. It was long ere I could turn away my eyes from the glittering heights, and yet the valley also offered much that was striking and beautiful.

for us, Lyova?” I would feel embarrassed and go out without

Throughout almost its entire length this valley formed a meadow, from the extremities of which columns of smoke and boiling springs burst forth. The mists had almost evaporated, and the atmosphere was bright and clear, more transparent even than I had seen it in any other country. I now for the first time noticed, that in the valley itself the radiance was almost as clear as the light of day, so that the most minute objects could be plainly distinguished. This was, however, extremely necessary, for steep and dangerous paths lead over masses of lava into the valley. On one side ran a little river, forming many picturesque waterfalls, some of them above thirty feet in height.

for us, Lyova?” I would feel embarrassed and go out without

I strained my eyes in vain to discover any where, in this great valley, a little church, which, if it only offered me a hard bench for a couch, would at any rate afford me a shelter from the sharp night-wind; for it is really no joke to ride for fifteen hours, with nothing to eat but bread and cheese, and then not even to have the pleasant prospect of a hotel a la villa de Londres or de Paris. Alas, my wishes were far more modest. I expected no porter at the gate to give the signal of my arrival, no waiter, and no chambermaid; I only desired a little spot in the neighbourhood of the dear departed Icelanders. I was suddenly recalled from these happy delusions by the voice of the guide, who cried out: "Here we are at our destination for to-night." I looked joyfully round; alas! I could only see a few of those cottages which are never observed until you almost hit your nose against one of them, as the grass-covered walls can hardly be distinguished from the surrounding meadow.

It was already midnight. We stopped, and turned our horses loose, to seek supper and rest in the nearest meadow. Our lot was a less fortunate one. The inhabitants were already buried in deep slumbers, from which even the barking set up by the dogs at our approach failed to arouse them. A cup of coffee would certainly have been very acceptable to me; yet I was loath to rouse any one merely for this. A piece of bread satisfied my hunger, and a draught of water from the nearest spring tasted most deliciously with it. After concluding my frugal meal, I sought out a corner beside a cottage, where I was partially sheltered from the too- familiar wind; and wrapping my cloak around me, lay down on the ground, having wished myself, with all my heart, a good night's rest and pleasant dreams, in the broad daylight, { 37} under the canopy of heaven. Just dropping off to sleep, I was surprised by a mild rain, which, of course, at once put to flight every idea of repose. Thus, after all, I was obliged to wake some one up, to obtain the shelter of a roof.

The best room, i.e. the store-room, was thrown open for my accommodation, and a small wooden bedstead placed at my disposal. Chambers of this kind are luckily found wherever two or three cottages lie contiguous to each other; they are certainly far from inviting, as dried fish, train-oil, tallow, and many other articles of the same description combine to produce a most unsavoury atmosphere. Yet they are infinitely preferable to the dwellings of the peasants, which, by the by, are the most filthy dens that can be imagined. Besides being redolent of every description of bad odour, these cottages are infested with vermin to a degree which can certainly not be surpassed, except in the dwellings of the Greenlanders and Laplanders.

Yesterday we had been forced to put upon our poor horses a wearisome distance of more than fifty miles, as the last forty miles led us through desert and uninhabited places, boasting not even a single cottage. To-day, however, our steeds had a light duty to perform, for we only proceeded seven miles to the little village of Reikiadal, where I halted to-day, in order to visit the celebrated springs.

The inconsiderable village called Reikiadal, consisting only of a church and a few cottages, is situated amidst pleasant meadows. Altogether this valley is rich in beautiful meadow-lands; consequently one sees many scattered homesteads and cottages, with fine herds of sheep, and a tolerable number of horses; cows are less plentiful.



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