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and broken lava shingle, but memorable on account of the wonderful variety of sea-birds that we encountered. Golden plover and snipe called to us in confidence, sea-swallows and magpies and gulls innumerable circled in the air above our path, eider-ducks and puffins trotted along the shore in front of us. At length we reached the farmhouse, a turfed and timbered dwelling, and our incursion caused no little surprise. The old proprietor was out in his hayfields, with a score or so of young men and maidens; all hands at work, making the most of the sunshine. Nothing could have exceeded their kindness to us. A rich meal of coffee and cakes and jam was spread out in the guest-chamber, and horses were afterwards provided to take us down to the river—a most attractive arrangement of rocky pools and waterfalls—in which the salmon were rising by the dozen, declining to be caught by fly or minnow, or anything except the homely worm. Thus, shooting snipe and wild-duck, or fishing, the days passed most agreeably. They are charming people, these upland families in the back of beyond. Their hospitality is so real, nothing seems to be too much trouble for them. The men, it is true, are indolent, and not remarkable for many of the manly virtues; but they are well educated and delightful in conversation. Their women-folk are held of smaller account; they do the rough work in and about the farms, and the daughters of the house may not even sit down to eat until they have served the men of the party. But, to the eye of the foreigner, they are certainly the superior sex, and we all fell victims to their captivating features and voices. It is, indeed, hard to realise that such charm can exist in surroundings so primitive, for life is primitive indeed where it is customary for the youths of both sexes in a household (not even of the same family) to sleep in the same great ‘Badstofa,’ or general living-room. The bathing system, too, would not exactly satisfy the requirements of some censorious and twentieth-century persons; for, as a rule, the whole family indulges simultaneously, though very occasionally, in a vapour bath, which is procured by lighting a fire beneath a cairn of stones, which become white-hot, and then pouring buckets of cold water over them. Clouds of steam fill the bath-chamber, and the bathers invigorate one another with rudimentary massage. Of course, these old-time habits are now confined to isolated hamlets, and have long been impossible in the capital or trading centres, where the hot-springs can often be requisitioned and adapted to serve the purposes of the most elegant bath-room.
A summer Sunday is a great day in the villages of Iceland. There is no work—if the hay is all in-and from each farm a cavalcade of men and women and children on sturdy little ponies proceeds to the village church. From far and near they gather together and gossip over the news of the week until the parson arrives on his pony, and the bells begin to ring, the signal for the worshippers to enter the church. Service over, the general circle re-forms and the isolation of six days is all forgotten in the cheerful reunion of the seventh. At these gatherings the traveller has the best opportunity of seeing the quaint old customs which are so distinctive of the Icelanders. He will also come across the finest specimens of the native breed of ponies, which are collected by traders from the upland farms, and shipped from the coast in hundreds to Leith, whence they are dispersed to the coal-mining districts of Great Britain.
Such is my imperfect memory of a delightful trip to Iceland, a veritable Haven of Rest in an age when all other countries are striving after progress and money. But our visit was too short to exhaust all the possibilities of the island, which can still offer sporting and scenic attractions that are difficult to beat. Another time I shall be greatly tempted to arrange for a caravan of ponies, and strike across country from Reykiavik to the North, returning either by the east or west coast. Such a journey was performed last year by a couple of young English officers of my acquaintance, who were loud in their praises of the shooting and fishing to be obtained for little more than the asking. Their only difficulty—and who has not experienced it in some part of the world 7–was with the guides, who left something to be desired though they were by no means indispensable. My friends dismissed their cicerone when only half way through their tour. What was their surprise, on returning to Reykiavik, to find him established as Governor of the State Prison, a proud official, resplendent in a green-and-gold uniform, ready to take his part in the great reception which awaited the King of Denmark.
IAN MALcol M.
THE blacksmith's forge stood just this side of the village as you entered it from Shepston, and David Blake, the smith, was blowing lustily at his bellows, while the sweat dripped down his face. The cool of a spring morning came through the doorway, against which leaned a heavy, slouching lad. ‘Te-he, David the Smith ! Sparks do go scrambling up chimley,' said Billy the Fool, with a fat and empty laugh. They called him Billy the Fool for old affection’s sake, with no sense of reproach ; for the old ways of thought had a fast hold on Garth village, and a natural was held in a certain awe, as being something midway between a prophet and a child. ‘Ay, sparks are scrambling up. 'Tis a way they have, Billy,” answered the other cheerily. “What's your news?” Again Billy laughed, but cunningly this time. ‘Grand news— all about myself. Was up at sunrise, and been doing naught ever since. I'm main fond of doing naught, Blacksmith David. Seems to trickle down your body, does idleness, like good ale.” The blacksmith loosed his hold on the bellows’ handles and turned about, while he passed a hand across his forehead. ‘Is there naught ye like better than idleness 2' he asked. ‘Think now, Billy—just ponder over it.” ‘Well, now,” answered the other, after a silence, “there's playing—what ye might call playing at a right good game. Could ye think of some likely pastime, Blacksmith David 2 ° ‘Ay, could I. Blowing bellows is the grandest frolic ever I came across.” Billy the Fool was wary, after his own fashion, and he looked
Copyright, 1908, by Halliwell Sutcliffe, in the United States of America.
at the blacksmith hard, his child's eyes—blue and unclouded by the storms of life—showing big beneath their heavy brows of reddish-brown. ‘I doubt 'tis work, David Blake,” he said dispassionately. “Nay, now ! Would I ask thee to work, lad 2 Fond o' thee as I am, and knowing labour's harmful to thee ?’ “I shouldn’t like to be trapped into work. 'Twould scare me when I woke o’ nights and thought of it.’ ‘See ye, then, Billy’—blowing the bellows gently— is it work to make yon sparks go, blue and green and red, as fast as ever ye like to drive 'em 2 Play, I call it, and I’ve a mind, now I come to think on 't, just to keep ye out o' the game, and go on playing it myself.” Billy the Fool drew nearer, with an anxious look. ‘Ye wouldn't do that, or ye’d not be Blacksmith David,” he said, with unerring knowledge of the other's kindliness. “Te-he " 'Tis just a bit o’ sporting—I hadn’t thought of it i' that light.” And soon he was blowing steadily; for the lad's frame was a giant's, when he chose to use it, and no fatigue had ever greatly touched him. From time to time, as the blacksmith paused to take a red-hot bar from the furnace or to put a cold one in, he would nod cheerfully at Billy the Fool and emphasise the frolicsome side of his employment. \ ‘Ye’ve an easy time, Billy, he would say. “See me sweating here at beating iron into horseshoe shape—and ye playing at chasing sparks all up the chimley !’ The sweat was pouring from Billy, too, by this time, but he did not heed. Plump and soft his laugh came, as he forced the sparks more swiftly from the coals. “Was born for playtimes, I, Blacksmith David,” he cried in great delight. “I’ve heard tell of silver spoons, popped unbeknownst-like into babbies' cradles. I war a babby o’ that make, I reckon, for sure 'tis I’m always playing, when I’m not always idling in between times.’ ‘Ye were lucky fro’ birth,’ David answered, driving the hole for the last nail. “Some folk is, while other-some must work.’ ‘Why do ye work, Blacksmith David 2' asked Billy the Fool, with entire simplicity. ‘Oh, just a fancy, lad. Seems as I have to, somehow. There were no silver spoons dropped into my cradle. Hive o’ bees swarmed there, I fancy, for I’ve had a few in my bonnet ever since.”
There was another silence, while Billy the Fool, working hard at the bellows, looked long and meditatively at David Blake. “I wouldn’t like to hurt ye, Blacksmith David,” he said at last, “but I reckon ye're just a bit daft-witted like. Why don’t ye play or idle all your time, same as I do David threw the finished horseshoe on the heap at his left hand, and was about to answer when a shadow came between the reeking smithy and the fresh and open sunshine beyond the door. * Oh, 'tis ye, Priscilla 2 he said, looking up. ‘Ye’ve got the spring-look in your face.” The girl had worn that look, indeed, from babyhood. The fairies had laid no silver spoons in her cradle, but they had put a better gift; for she was born when spring was coming in, and even her mother, hard-working farm-wife as she was, had thought of primroses and of marsh-marigolds by the moor-stream's brim, and of the greening trees, as she watched the healthy comeliness of her little lass grow with the seasons. Now, as she stood half in, half out of the Smithy door, Priscilla was radiant in her young and pliant beauty. To David Blake's fancy—rough, kindly, not far wide of the mark at any time— she ‘made the day new-washed and happier’; yet it was Billy the Fool who next found his tongue. ‘Te-hel Ye look as if life was playtime for ye, too,” said he, still blowing at his bellows, but looking at her slily over his shoulder. ‘Maybe,” she laughed—and the kind, wise music of the thrush was in her laughter. ‘’Tis very true, Billy. Life's playtime for Ine." David Blake looked at her, and liked her a little the better; for he knew that Priscilla worked hard, worked long and with a blithe face, each day of her life. To the blacksmith it seemed, in between doing odd jobs that brought him in a livelihood, that his prime work in life was to love Priscilla ever and ever a little more— and each day to find himself more tongue-tied in her presence. It was Billy who took up the talk again, though Blake, tomorrow's morn, would think of twenty things he might have said, and curse himself in a quiet way for having failed to say them. * I'm always playing, as a man might say, myself,’ chuckled Billy the Fool. “Playing at bellows-blowing now. See the lile sparks go up, Miss Priscilla—’tis I that send them, right enough.” “Why, yes,” she said, nodding pleasantly at his wide and gaping VOL. XXV.-NO. 145, N.S. 9