« PreviousContinue »
In a few hours we reached a grass-patch, on which cows were grazing, beneath a curious hill, sloping rapidly .to the plain from its snuffbox-like cap. This is the Meyjar-skarth, the spot where sports were wont to take place in old historic times, wrestling, goff, and stone-lifting; whilst the ladies sat on the sides of the hill, watching and backing the players.
After a short halt, our horses scrambled up a narrow gorge to the left, past a stone on which the traveller is expected to inscribe his name. The way is steep and particularly unpleasant, as it lies between ashen grey cliffs, and over heaps of shattered tufa rock.
Tufa is formed of volcanic cinder consolidated into rock, but the fragments are so feebly cemented together, that, with every thaw, masses of crag are dislodged and borne down into the vales. The view from the top of this pass amply repays all the trouble of the ascent. Far away in front is the silver dome of Ok Jokull, with the volcanic cone of Fantofell, or the Scoundrel's Mount, rising, dyed a deep gentian blue, against. its matchless white. To the left, the iron grey mountain scarps of Sulur, with here and there a terrace of green moss to relieve its gloom, and a stream flashing over its blackest bluff into the blue still lake at our feet, whose face is only ruffled by three drowsy swans floating in the shadow, like flakes of snow dropped from the mountain ledges. To the right, shoulders of sandrock, striking into the lake and retreating into bays, leaving flat beaches, over which Mr. Briggs and the baggage horses are already careering at a hand gallop.
I leap from my horse and make a water-colour drawing, then scour down the hill in the spoor of the other horses and overtake them at a critical moment.
The sands at the lake-head were so inviting that the mare carrying the great bed had made up her mind for a roll. In effecting this on a hill slope, her girths gave way, the bed broke loose, and I was just in time to see it sounding like a foot-ball down the incline, making straight for the lake, with my portly friend in full pursuit, uttering wails of dismay. Fortunately for him, the bed stopped dead in its course,