artist at painting eggs. She once brought some gaily painted

Nature Difficult to Move Networkfood2023-11-30 18:26:17 38 5769

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.

artist at painting eggs. She once brought some gaily painted

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.

artist at painting eggs. She once brought some gaily painted

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.

artist at painting eggs. She once brought some gaily painted

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.

The church at Reikiadal is among the neatest and most roomy of those which came under my observation. The dwelling of the priest too, though only a turf-covered cottage, is large enough for the comfort of the occupants. This parish extends over a considerable area, and is not thinly inhabited.

My first care on my arrival was to beg the clergyman, Herr Jonas Jonason, to procure for me, as expeditiously as possible, fresh horses and a guide, in order that I might visit the springs. He promised to provide me with both within half an hour; and yet it was not until three hours had been wasted, that, with infinite pains, I saw my wish fulfilled. Throughout my stay in Iceland, nothing annoyed me more than the slowness and unconcern displayed by the inhabitants in all their undertakings. Every wish and every request occupies a long time in its fulfilment. Had I not been continually at the good pastor's side, I believe I should scarcely have attained my object. At length every thing was ready, and the pastor himself was kind enough to be my guide.

We rode about four miles through this beautiful vale, and in this short distance were compelled at least six times to cross the river Sidumule, which rolls its most tortuous course through the entire valley. At length the first spring was reached; it emerges from a rock about six feet in height, standing in the midst of a moor. The upper cavity of the natural reservoir, in which the water continually boils and seethes, is between two and three feet in diameter. This spring never stops; the jet of water rises two, and sometimes even four feet high, and is about eighteen inches thick. It is possible to increase the volume of the jet for a few seconds, by throwing large stones or lumps of earth into the opening, and thus stirring up the spring. The stones are cast forcibly forth, and the lumps of earth, dissolved by the action of the water, impart to the latter a dingy colour.



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