made according to a plan of his own. The ventilator was

Nature Difficult to Move Networkmeat2023-11-30 19:27:36 6 864

The little island of Vidoe, four miles distant from Reikjavik, is described by most travellers as the chief resort of the eider-duck. I visited the island on the 8th of June, but was disappointed in my expectations. I certainly saw many of these birds on the declivities and in the chasms of the rocks, sitting quietly on their nests, but nothing approaching the thousands I had been led to expect. On the whole, I may perhaps have seen from one hundred to a hundred and fifty nests.

made according to a plan of his own. The ventilator was

The most remarkable circumstance connected with the eider-ducks is their tameness during the period of incubation. I had always regarded as myths the stories told about them in this respect, and should do so still had I not convinced myself of the truth of these assertions by laying hands upon the ducks myself. I could go quite up to them and caress them, and even then they would not often leave their nests. Some few birds, indeed, did so when I wished to touch them; but they did not fly up, but contented themselves with coolly walking a few paces away from the nest, and there sitting quietly down until I had departed. But those which already had live young, beat out boldly with their wings when I approached, struck at me with their bills, and allowed themselves to be taken up bodily rather than leave the nest. They are about the size of our ducks; their eggs are of a greenish grey, rather larger than hen's eggs, and taste very well. Altogether they lay about eleven eggs. The finest down is that with which they line their nests at first; it is of a dark grey colour. The Icelanders take away this down, and the first nest of eggs. The poor bird now robs herself once more of a quantity of down (which is, however, not of so fine a quality as the first), and again lays eggs. For the second time every thing is taken from her; and not until she has a third time lined the nest with her down is the eider-duck left in peace. The down of the second, and that of the third quality especially, are much lighter than that of the first. I also was sufficiently cruel to take a few eggs and some down out of several of the nests. { 34}

made according to a plan of his own. The ventilator was

I did not witness the dangerous operation of collecting this down from between the clefts of rocks and from unapproachable precipices, where people are let down, or to which they are drawn up, by ropes, at peril of their lives. There are, however, none of these break- neck places in the neighbourhood of Reikjavik.

made according to a plan of his own. The ventilator was

I made another excursion to a very short distance (two miles) from Reikjavik, in the company of Herr Bernhoft and his daughter, to the Laxselv (salmon river) to witness the salmon-fishing, which takes place every week from the middle of June to the middle of August. It is conducted in a very simple manner. The fish come up the river in the spawning season; the stream is then dammed up with several walls of stone loosely piled to the height of some three feet; and the retreat of the fish to the sea is thus cut off. When the day arrives on which the salmon are to be caught, a net is spread behind each of these walls. Three or four such dams are erected at intervals, of from eighty to a hundred paces, so that even if the fishes escape one barrier, they are generally caught at the next. The water is now made to run off as much as possible; the poor salmon dart to and fro, becoming every moment more and more aware of the sinking of the water, and crowd to the weirs, cutting themselves by contact with the sharp stones of which they are built. This is the deepest part of the water; and it is soon so thronged with fish, that men, stationed in readiness, can seize them in their hands and fling them ashore.

The salmon possess remarkable swiftness and strength. The fisherman is obliged to take them quickly by the head and tail, and to throw them ashore, when they are immediately caught by other men, who fling them still farther from the water. If this is not done with great quickness and care, many of the fishes escape. It is wonderful how these creatures can struggle themselves free, and leap into the air. The fishermen are obliged to wear woollen mittens, or they would be quite unable to hold the smooth salmon. At every day's fishing, from five hundred to a thousand fish are taken, each weighing from five to fifteen pounds. On the day when I was present eight hundred were killed. This salmon-stream is farmed by a merchant of Reikjavik.

The fishermen receive very liberal pay,--in fact, one-half of the fish taken. And yet they are dissatisfied, and show so little gratitude, as seldom to finish their work properly. So, for instance, they only brought the share of the merchant to the harbour of Reikjavik, and were far too lazy to carry the salmon from the boat to the warehouse, a distance certainly not more than sixty or seventy paces from the shore. They sent a message to their employer, bidding him "send some fresh hands, for they were much too tired." Of course, in a case like this, all remonstrance is unavailing.

As in the rest of the world, so also in Iceland, every occasion that offers is seized upon for a feast or a merry-making. The day on which I witnessed the salmon-fishing happened to be one of the few fine days that occur during a summer in Iceland. It was therefore unanimously concluded by several merchants, that the day and the salmon-fishing should be celebrated by a dejeuner a la fourchette. Every one contributed something, and a plentiful and elegant breakfast was soon arranged, which quite resembled an entertainment of the kind in our country; this one circumstance excepted, that we were obliged to seat ourselves on the ground, by reason of a scarcity of tables and benches. Spanish and French wines, as well as cold punch, were there in plenty, and the greatest hilarity prevailed.

I made a fourth excursion, but to a very inconsiderable distance,-- in fact, only a mile and a half from Reikjavik. It was to see a hot and slightly sulphurous spring, which falls into a river of cold water. By this lucky meeting of extremes, water can be obtained at any temperature, from the boiling almost to the freezing point. The townspeople take advantage of this good opportunity in two ways, for bathing and for washing clothes. The latter is undoubtedly the more important purpose of application, and a hut has been erected, in order to shield the poor people from wind and rain while they are at work. Formerly this hut was furnished with a good door and with glazed windows, and the key was kept at an appointed place in the town, whence any one might fetch it. But the servants and peasant girls were soon too lazy to go for the key; they burst open the lock, and smashed the windows, so that now the hut has a very ruinous appearance, and affords but little protection against the weather. How much alike mankind are every where, and how seldom they do right, except when it gives them no trouble, and then, unfortunately, there is not much merit to be ascribed to them, as their doing right is merely the result of a lucky chance! Many people also bring fish and potatoes, which they have only to lay in the hot water, and in a short time both are completely cooked.



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