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the surface of the water, his long golden curls floating over his delicate shoulders, from beneath a jaunty red cap. The Neck held a shining harp in his hand, and from it rang the sweetest harmony as he chaunted, "I know, I know that my Redeemer liveth!"
The old priest was indignant that a Neck should apply these holy words to himself, and in his zeal, he cried to him: "Why dost thou sound thy harp Bo gleefully, 0 Neck? Sooner shall this dried cane that I hold in my hand grow green and blossom, than thou shalt obtain salvation." Thereupon the gentle minstrel flung aside his harp, and rocked himself, bitterly weeping, on the water. The priest turned his horse and continued his course. But, lo! before he had proceeded far, he noticed that tender shoots and leaves began to bud forth from his old staff, soon bursting into most glorious and fragrant flowers, so that, as the old man rode, he seemed like some saint bearing a branch from Paradise. This seemed to him a sign from Heaven, directing him to preach redemption after another fashion. He therefore hastened back, and found the sobbing Neck on his pool, which was full of water, ready to trickle over, like an eye full of tears just ere they fall.
He showed the Neck his green flowery staff, and said—" So this old stock has grown green and blossomed as a young branch in a rose-garden; therefore, like it, may hope blossom in the hearts of all created beings, for their Redeemer liveth."
Then the Neck caught up its harp, and long through the night rang its gladsome song, and the little waves danced around. The old priest was sorry to go, and, as he went, he repeated, "Praise the Lord! His mercy is over all His works!"
It will be observed from the foregoing popular tradition, which is found in Iceland, Germany and Norway, that, in other countries than our own, Nick is not considered synonymous with Satan; but rather as a fantastic being with many good points about him.
Sunday I spent quietly at Grimstunga, hoping to see an Icelandic service in the little barn-like church. But I was disappointed. The priest of Underfell came, this being an annexja, or chapel of ease, and was received by the widowed housewife of Grimstunga with the warmest kisses. The pastor was a small man, not taller than a boy of twelve, with bandy legs, a large head and long arms, and swallow-tails which swept the floor; he reminded me strongly of Quilp, but his face was intelligent, though ugly.
Hardly had he been half-an-hour in the house when coffee and cakes were brought him by the widow. The pastor's long arms folded his sheep lovingly to his heart, and repeated kisses testified his gratitude for the coffee. The offer of sugar-candy produced another outburst of affection and a repetition of the same scene. When the coffee was drunk, its excellence was acknowledged with more kisses; the delicacy of the cakes was also duly honoured.
"Another cup?" asked the housewife.
"You are too good!" kisses again. In came the coffee once more, and all the kisses, before and after drinking it, were repeated. Time for church arrived, some farmers dropped in dressed in blue jackets, and hung about the room; four sat down on my bed, and three on Grimr's, others sauntered in and out of the door.
"I think we may do without service to-day," said Quilp; so the parishioners returned to their homes.
"And pray why is there no service?" I asked of Grimr.
"There are not enough people here to form a congregation," he answered. Yet there must have been twenty!
On Sunday afternoon the members of the household assembled for a family service in the garret above my chamber. This service consisted in reading a chapter of the Bible, saying the Lord's Prayer and the collect for the Sunday, in monotone, singing two hymns, and reading a portion of one of Vidal's sermons. The singing was execrable, it was like the sound which might be produced by a chorus of Cochinchina fowls, accompanied by a hurdygurdy, yet it was sufficient to stir Grimr's enthusiasm.
"Is not this beautiful!" he exclaimed; "yet tourists persist in saying that we Icelanders are not musical!"
The first tune was that of Luther's “Ein fester Burg;” considerably altered. The second struck me, notwithstanding the intolerable way in which it was executed, as being peculiarly beautiful. It is not, I believe, a genuine Icelandic melody, having been imported from Denmark, where it was originally composed.
Half-an-hour later the Yankee and Martin arrived with their guides and the baggage, and took up their quarters at the farm of Haukagil, a mile north of Grimstunga.
They had not been remarkably successful in their sport, having caught no trout, but shot a few birds, among which were a red-breasted diver (Colymbus septentrionalis), and a scaup (Fuligula mania).
Haukagil is a spot of historic interest, as it was the scene of a struggle between the first Christian missionary and some Berserkirs; it was also the home of Olaf, one of his first converts to the true faith.
The farm is prettily situated on the scarp of a hill, facing the east, and has an extensive tun, very green, but more than half morass. The door of the house is curious, being of carved oak, with the Austrian eagle in medallions, and a border of grapes surrounding the panels. There are traces of vermilion and blue on the wood, which show that the door must have been originally painted. The farmer was a remarkably fine man, with long hair flowing over his shoulders; he was well built and muscular; he was dressed neatly in a short jacket and blue breeches, with his legs, from the knee downwards, encased in a wrap of sheep's hide bound round with leather thongs; and his feet were shod with the usual Icelandic shoes of undressed sheepskin.
On Monday morning I rode down the valley on my way to Hnausir, where we purposed spending the night, as we bore letters of introduction to the proprietor of the farm.
The Vatnsdalr is hemmed in between mountains, with their flanks like iron walls, on the right hand and on the left, and their tops enveloped in cloud, so that I had no opportunity of seeing them. Over the wall-like sides shot torrents in superb cascades, from snows wrapped in vapour, falling from one to two thousand feet without a break. We remarked especially one fall on the eastern side of the valley, where the stream leaped out of a grey cloud into a singular black groove, scooped out of the mountain side, and reached the base in a heavy shower.
Grimr and I paid a visit to the parsonage of Underfell, but found that Quilp was absent. We were, however, received by his seven sons and buxom wife, who showed us a volume of MSS., which her husband had borrowed from a farmer in Langadal. It contained the Saga of Erik red, the Atli Saga, several of the sagas relating to the bishops, and, finally, the Draplangar Sonar Saga.
The sketch of Vatnsdalr in Plate V. was taken from the door of the parsonage, and represents the church, which is a fair specimen of Icelandic ecclesiastical architecture. In the distance on the left is the smoke from Ingimund's farm Hof, the smoke on the right proceeds from the byre of his murderer, which is now the richer farm of the two. After having finished my drawing, I bade farewell to Qnilp's wife and seven sons, and rode to Helgavatn, celebrated for its opals. I had no time now to look for them, but had to press on to Hnausir. We crossed the river at its last ford, and rode up to the door of Hnausir farm.