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was not far from their dwelling, and where the boat awaited them, in which they put off; but they had not pushed more than a few yards from where
upon the rocky coast and entered into tranquil water, when, to the stranger's surprise, the whole party took off their hats, while the pastor offered up a short prayer for the protection of God throughout the day; then, proceeding on their course, they united in a hymn of praise to the same Great Being, the voices keeping time with the movement of the oars.
The effect of this in such a scene was peculiarly impressive. The fiord was enclosed on each side by lofty rocks, which rose precipitously to the height of 200 or 300 feet. These gigantic bulwarks had their summits crowned with snow, now reflecting the morning beams from their dazzling heights. The water, thus sheltered from every breeze, was unruffled as a summer lake, there being nothing in its calm aspect to denote connection with the wind-swept ocean outside, except the ebbing and flowing of its tide; nor was any living thing to be seen but occasionally a blue or white fox gazing at them in mid-air from some jutting crag, or a flock of stately swans sailing across the sparkling waters, which reflected their snowy plumage, and heads crowned with a tuft of bright orange-coloured feathers.
When the last notes of the hymn died away, O'More said to Marfreda Vidalin, who was seated beside him: “Such a scene would awaken devotion in the coldest bosom. I no longer wonder at this pleasing manifestation of feeling under the circumstances.'
· And why did you ever wonder at it ?' she replied. ' Can man, endued with reason, contemplate the works of the Creator and not render the homage of praise ? Are not even his inanimate works said to do this? Earth, air, skies, praise Him!'
* True,' said O'More; “but to this "inarticulate music of the loyal universe,” as I have heard it called, such praise has been too much confined in every country I have ever visited until I came to your own. How does it happen, Sira Hialte,' he continued, addressing the clergyman, that your people seem to be so much influenced not only by devotional feelings but religious principles? You have here none of the external trappings of worship calculated to excite the imagination of the unlearned.'
The Sira replied: "That may partly be the cause so far as means are concerned, for they learn doctrine and precept simply from the Scriptures themselves_books so much prized throughout the length and breadth of our land, that when an agent of your benevolent Society came here to distribute them printed in our Icelandic tongue, many gave all the money they possessed to secure a copy, and others would weep bitterly when he was unable to supply them.'
The boat had proceeded some miles up the fiord when they landed, and pursued their course through a scene equally striking. It was a vast wilderness of stones and sand, utterly destitute of vegetation, without the faintest impression of a track across it, and enormous masses of compact stone were scattered all around.
• How are we to find our way through this desert ?' inquired O'More.
' I marvel not you should inquire,' replied Sira Hialte, 'for truly the line of confusion seems to have been stretched out over it; but here is our clue through the labyrinth, and one which can boast of high antiquity'
pointing to heaps of stones in a pyramidal form, arranged at certain distances from each other.
* These we call vardar,' continued the pastor; · and they are an important accommodation to travellers through such a wilderness, and undoubtedly similar to what the Jewish prophet alludes to when he says: “ Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps.'
• Another relic of Orientalism,' said O'More ; "and truly this place must strongly resemble an Arabian desert; and now, yonder old man who has so suddenly emerged from behind that rock, and stands looking at us, while his hoary locks and snowy beard stream like a meteor in the desert air, adds greatly to the interest of the landscape.'
• It is Hudur the Thulr,' cried Marfreda. It is long since we saw him, and I rejoice that he is come: his old sagas and poems will entertain our guest, and accord with his taste for antiquarian research.'
The old man now approached. Though far advanced in years, his appearance was vigorous, and his countenance highly intelligent. He expressed much joy at this meeting, and the usual salutations were exchanged, which again reminded O'More of the Arabs, being palpably of Eastern origin. They consisted of a kiss, and the words 'Sael vertu;' signifying, ' Happiness be with thee;' and exactly corresponding, 'as he thought, with the Arabic salam. The new-comer seemed particularly glad to see Marfreda. He took her small hand between his own large bony ones, and looking intently on her face, exclaimed : ' Daughter of Vidalin, the blood of a race long famed in our beloved country for wisdom and learning flows in thy veins, as that fair, sweet countenance betrays. But the stately bearing of that form, and the glance of those eyes, speak of connection with other lands and other races, inheritors of a different kind of renown. Young scion of a royal tree that once flourished on Erin's distant plains, how many a valiant deed could I recite of thy forefathers !'
• Indeed!' exclaimed O'More. . And how, friend, may I inquire, have you become acquainted with my country's legends, for I am come from these same distant plains ? '
· Are you really a Hibernian?' he replied, fixing his piercing eyes upon the stranger. He then continued : 'Why should you deem me ignorant of your country's history? I have had some opportunities of becoming acquainted with her annals, not only ancient but modern.'
As they proceeded on their way, O'More was entertained and surprised by the conversation of this new addition to their party. He seemed not only well versed in the history, antiquities, and natural productions of his own land, but by the acute questions which he put to the stranger, evinced much knowledge of other countries, and had even some acquaintance with their literature; but Semund assured his guest that similar attainments were by no means uncommon even among the poorest of the peasantry. "However,' he added, 'old Hudur is not to be classed with such : he is a specimen of our Thulrs, or itinerating historians, who gain a living during our long winters by staying at different houses, furnishing entertainment for the evening by repeating our national sagas, or sometimes reciting poetry till they have quite exhausted their stock of literary knowledge. It is a
* Jeremiah, xxxi. 21.
custom which has existed among the Scandinavians from time immemorial. This man has had peculiar advantages, having lived much among Marfreda Vidalin's family, particularly with her grandmother, who was a Norwegian lady, and, I have heard, a very well-informed woman.
But see, we have arrived at the object of our search.' And so they had. They could now see the columns of curling vapour ascending, and hear the roaring of the boiling fountains, and ultimately came within sight of them.
When our Irish traveller stood upon the brink of the precipice surrounding the lake or large pool from whence the vast body of boiling water was ejected, and gazed upon these enormous jetting fountains, ten or twelve in number, rising some of them to the height of fifty or sixty feet-vast clouds of steam rolling and spreading as they ascended till they seemed to fill the horizon around—his feelings were as far beyond our powers of description as the scene which awakened them, and he was afterwards heard to declare, that the awful impression it left upon his mind no length of time could
The persons who accompanied him, though accustomed to the wonderful phenomena of Icelandic scenery, also appeared to partake of the solemnity of his feelings. The pastor gazed upon the steamy columns as they arose till his looks, following them in their ascent, were lifted up to Heaven, evidently in profound adoration. The maiden stood with her hands clasped, and her eyes half averted, as if her gentle nature recoiled from contemplating what was so fearful; yet her beautiful features wore an expression which fully manifested her appreciation of the sublimity of the scene. The tall, erect form of old Hudur, standing on the very brink of the abyss, and gazing with stern, unmoved admiration, formed an equally picturesque addition to the group. The thulr was the first who broke silence. “Many a time,' he exclaimed, ‘has a husband cast the bride of his youth, or a father the child of his own body, from this very spot on which we stand into that bubbling, boiling lake below, in order to appease the offended deities who were supposed to preside over it. I will repeat the composition of one of our ancient poets which records such an instance of heathen superstition.'
He accordingly commenced the recitation, to which the stranger listened attentively, being deeply interested in what afforded a specimen of national poetry bearing unequivocal marks of independent origin. With the assistance of Marfreda as an interpreter occasionally, he was able perfectly to understand it; and though in regard to the rhymes and variation of the verses it was a little extravagant, yet the grandeur of its imagery and tenderness of its sentiment excited his admiration. The legend was a popular one, the subject being a queen of former days named Andur the Rick, a lady of piratical memory, who, after various adventures and depredations upon her neighbours, which even extended to the coasts of Scotland and Ireland, fixed her final residence upon the very spot where they then stood, erecting a temple to Thor, the remains of which the narrator pointed to at a little distance. On some occasion of danger, when a peculiarly precious oblation to this bloody deity was deemed necessary, the queen's daughter, being of course, like all persecuted heroines, exquisitely beautiful, was, by the desire of her mother, cast into the boiling gulf as a sacrifice. The thulr had commenced his recital with a calm, unimpassioned manner; but as he proceeded his action, the tones of his
deep voice, and the expression of his countenance, became so energetic, so
O'More of Glenard Castle ?'
'The grandson of Donough O'More ?' once more interrogated the thulr.
'I am indeed,' he answered. · But though these names may be well known among my native hills and glens, I cannot imagine how they have been heard of on the remote shores of Iceland. Do inform me how and what you have learned of Glenard Castle—the residence of my forefathers, and of him whom you have just mentioned, Donough O'More.'
“No matter,' replied Hudur; the wandering thulr of the north has many ways of obtaining information, and I before intimated to you that I was not wholly unacquainted with the history, both ancient and modern, of your Milesian septs.' He then became silent and thoughtful, nor could any future effort of O'More's succeed in elucidating what seemed so extraordinary
The traveller continued daily visiting remarkable places, and increasing his acquaintance with the character and habits of the Icelanders. He was always accompanied by Semund Erlandson, whose anxiety to gain information concerning the stranger's own country seemed to increase with every accession of knowledge on the subject. When O'More, full of enthusiastic admiration of some tumbling cataract or smoking mountain, would assure the Icelander that these scenes of wild grandeur were wholly unequalled by anything he had left behind, Semund would reply: “Ah, my friend, it is not your fertile valleys and green hills I envy: it is the moral excellence, the mental cultivation of those who inhabit them I long to witness — to attain, if I could.' From day to day this idea seemed to gain strength in the young man's mind; and though O'More endeavoured to remove an impression which he feared might lead to the subversion of his friend's happiness, by assuring him that the general superiority of the British, either morally or mentally, was not quite so great as he imagined an assertion which he sometimes illustrated by sketches of his own fellowsubjects more true than complimentary-still Semund's thoughts dwelt upon the delights of a land where schools and colleges, publishers and booksellers' shops abounded, until a disrelish for his usual avocations and domestic joys was the result. His family observed it with regret, and to Marfreda especially it was obviously a source of much uneasiness.
This young girl, who possessed that clear intellectual discernment which characterises the people from whom she boasted to derive her descent—the sons of Erin-saw at once into the state of Semund's mind, and longed that they should converse about it with their wonted freedom.
The venerable Hialte had now resumed his summer employment of working in his garden, where, notwithstanding the ungenial influence of the climate, he always contrived to rear most of the vegetables used for culinary purposes in more southern lands, and to supply his flock—a few sheep scattered about the surrounding wilderness — with seeds. The culture of such flowers as would grow in that country was of course Marfreda's department, and in this pleasant labour Semund sometimes assisted. On one of these occasions observing that his mind was abstracted from his employment, and that even the sound of her voice failed to draw forth more than a brief reply, she said: 'Dear Semund, can it be that you are grown weary of our once happy home? Can it be that what this stranger tells of other lands has caused you to feel discontented with all that once constituted the joy of life?'
'No, no, beloved Marfreda; but ’-
He did not, and the fears which had arisen in her mind were realised. The love of knowledge, the taste for literature so general among his countrymen, had awakened in this young Icelander so ardent a desire to visit lands where such enjoyments were easier of attainment than in his own, that he acknowledged he could not feel happy without gratifying it, notwithstanding which he assured her his affection for home and all its endearments was unabated. His auditor listened in silence, and then replied: "Semund, our visitor has sketched a brilliant picture of distant scenes wherewith to dazzle the eyes of your understanding, but believe me he has only given the lights and carefully concealed the shadows.'
“You wrong him, Marfreda: he never tried to lure me from home, as you seem to think, by an account of more favoured lands; he has rather sought to deter me from an experiment which he says will end in disappointment. But I think otherwise, and have formed my opinion statements elicited from him before he was aware of my