They walked from their own provinces on foot, taking a
I could not but wonder at the fact that most of these people expected to find me acquainted with a number of things generally studied only by men; they seemed to have a notion that in foreign parts women should be as learned as men. So, for instance, the priests always inquired if I spoke Latin, and seemed much surprised on finding that I was unacquainted with the language. The common people requested my advice as to the mode of treating divers complaints; and once, in the course of one of my solitary wanderings about Reikjavik, on my entering a cottage, they brought before me a being whom I should scarcely have recognised as belonging to the same species as myself, so fearfully was he disfigured by the eruption called "lepra." Not only the face, but the whole body also was covered with it; the patient was quite emaciated, and some parts of his body were covered with sores. For a surgeon this might have been an interesting sight, but I turned away in disgust.
But let us turn from this picture. I would rather tell of the angel's face I saw in Kalmannstunga. It was a girl, ten or twelve years of age, beautiful and lovely beyond description, so that I wished I had been a painter. How gladly would I have taken home with me to my own land, if only on canvass, the delicate face, with its roguish dimples and speaking eyes! But perhaps it is better as it is; the picture might by some unlucky chance have fallen into the hands of some too-susceptible youth, who, like Don Sylvio de Rosalva, in Wieland's Comical Romance, would immediately have proceeded to travel through half the world to find the original of this enchanting portrait. His spirit of inquiry would scarcely have carried him to Iceland, as such an apparition would never be suspected to exist in such a country, and thus the unhappy youth would be doomed to endless wandering.
The distance from Kalmannstunga to Thingvalla is fifty-two miles, and the journey is certainly one of the most dreary and fatiguing of all that can be made in Iceland. The traveller passes from one desert valley into another; he is always surrounded by high mountains and still higher glaciers, and wherever he turns his eyes, nature seems torpid and dead. A feeling of anxious discomfort seizes upon the wanderer, he hastens with redoubled speed through the far-stretched deserts, and eagerly ascends the mountains piled up before him, in the hope that better things lie beyond. It is in vain; he only sees the same solitudes, the same deserts, the same mountains.
On the elevated plateaux several places were still covered with snow; these we were obliged to cross, though we could frequently hear the rushing of the water beneath its snowy covering. We were compelled also to pass over coatings of ice spread lightly over rivers, and presenting that blue colour which is a certain sign of danger.
Our poor horses were sometimes very restive; but it was of no use; they were beaten without mercy until they carried us over the dangerous places. The pack-horse was always driven on in front with many blows; it had to serve as pioneer, and try if the road was practicable. Next came my guide, and I brought up the rear. Our poor horses frequently sank up to their knees in the snow, and twice up to the saddle-girths. This was one of the most dangerous rides I have ever had. I could not help continually thinking what I should do if my guide were to sink in so deeply that he could not extricate himself; my strength would not have been sufficient to rescue him, and whither should I turn to seek for help? All around us was nothing but a desert and snow. Perhaps my lot might have been to die of hunger. I should have wandered about seeking dwellings and human beings, and have entangled myself so completely among these wastes that I could never have found my way.
When at a distance I descried a new field of snow (and unfortunately we came upon them but too frequently), I felt very uncomfortable; those alone who have themselves been in a similar situation can estimate the whole extent of my anxiety.
If I had been travelling in company with others, these fears would not have disturbed me; for there reciprocal assistance can be rendered, and the consciousness of this fact seems materially to diminish the danger.
During the season in which the snow ceases to form a secure covering, this road is but little travelled. We saw nowhere a trace of footsteps, either of men or animals; we were the only living beings in this dreadful region. I certainly scolded my guide roundly for bringing me by such a road. But what did I gain by this? It would have been as dangerous to turn back as to go on.
- of three-halfpence, two fowls, one of which, the Indian
- It was embarrassing. In other inns where he had been, the
- an intangible, invisible condition, which draws humans
- seem to be more conducive thereto, they remain untouched,
- their terrible ordeals in the untracked jungle to the south;
- blank, his thoughts were racing, occupied with the girl's
- the fashion of barkers at a fair, praising their wares,
- far beyond the hoi polloi, that they were the leaders.
- might have noticed the reduced numbers of his following.
- Oh, I knew that it would be like that, with so many people
- so now they must invent stuff for calumny. All we want
- Sugawa, a great artist, she added, one of our best.
- and other comforts. At Caylen, the most southern island,
- it, he might as well do his best to draw from the incident
- new generation? Our side of it, she said. He wanted her
- held it over to him. For you, Kent-san. Good-night, o-yasumi
- mud-banks as the tide falls. They occasionally possess
- face[Pg 166] showed no resentment, expressed instead absorbed,
- he needed. He owed loyalty to his paper. He felt that he
- some other subject. It is getting quite late, Adachi-san.
- December 1st. — We steered for the island of Lemuy. I
- But she would not get away from it. Thank you very much,
- that was the case. That enmity existed among the various
- that a man might look at a woman, unclothed, without taint
- his face. A bank of yellow fog instantly enveloped him,
- effect of naturalness, purity even; one would feel ashamed
- more stairs, occupied with his thought of the incident
- other than the bath, suffer accidental exposure of even
- was scarcely superior to an English cottager. At night
- There was no time for debate; the cable office would close
- then that bankers had to invest the funds entrusted to
- black hair flowed loosely down to their shoulders; those
- the moving ray. Inhaling sibilantly, Max leaped after her.
- intense interest injected into his existence, and the next
- but the fact remains. You praise us for adopting your civilization,
- 167] he smiled, I don't resent it. I am glad it happened,
- sought her out. She did not know that he had even better
- bring forth a Gauguin or a Matisse, the others are doing
- to control herself, but failed. The other became infected
- he been sitting with them, fully clothed, in a café. Curiously,
- could trust. To them he explained his plans and the rich
- the face after the meal, being the sole concession to Japanese
- but he did not even know the number of his room. The servants
- added by the girl's appearance in the play. Apparently
- that she might honestly give him the answer that he demanded.
- seen this place a few years ago, when the women were displayed,
- She left the room, closed the shoji, the patter of her
- veranda, sat with her back turned to the room. The maid
- at our arrival, and said one to the other, “This is the
- another, a scapegoat, a martyr. Of course, no one believed