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land. Wondering what they would say to a live Californian, I plunged in and followed the route taken by my guide. Upon approaching the middle of the river I discovered that what appeared to be a streak of foam was in reality a wooden platform stretched across the chasm and covered by a thin sheet of water. It was pinned down to the rocks at each end, and was well braced with rafters underneath. From this the river derives its name -Brúará, or the Bridge.
The general aspect of the country differed but little from what I have already attempted to describe. Vast deserts of lava, snow-capped mountains in the distance, a few green spots here and there, and no apparent sign of habitation—these were its principal features. Below the falls the scene was peculiarly wild and characteristic. Tremendous masses of lava cast at random amid the roaring waters; great fissures splitting the earth asunder in all directions; every where marks of violent convulsion. In the following sketch I have endeavored to depict some of these salient points. When it is taken into consideration that the wind blew like a hurricane through the craggy ravines; that the rain and spray whirled over, and under, and almost through me; that it was difficult to stand on any elevated spot without danger of being blown over, I hope some allowance will be made for the imperfections of the performance.
About midway between Thingvalla and the Geysers we descended into a beautiful little valley, covered with a fine growth of grass, where we stopped to change horses and refresh ourselves with a lunch. While Zöega busied himself arranging the packs and saddles, our indefatigable little dog Brusa availed himself of the opportunity to give chase to a flock of sheep. Zöega shouted at him as usual, and as usual Brusa only barked the louder and ran the faster. The sheep scattered over the valley, Brusa pursuing all the loose members of the flock with a degree of energy and enthusiasm that would have done credit to a better cause. Upon the lambs he was
particularly severe. Many of them must have been stunted in their growth for life by the fright they received ; and it was not until he had tumbled half a dozen of them heels over head, and totally dispersed the remainder, that he saw fit to return to head-quarters. The excitement once over, he of course began to consider the consequences, and I must say he looked as mean as it was possible for an intelligent dog to look. Zöega took him by the nape of the neck with a relentless hand, and heaving a "profound sigh, addressed a pathetic remonstrance to him in the Icelandic language, giving it weight and emphasis by a sharp cut of his whip after every sentence. This solemn duty performed to his satisfaction, and greatly to Brusa's satisfaction when it was over, we mounted our horses once more and proceeded on our journey.
A considerable portion of this day's ride was over a rolling country, somewhat resembling the foot-bills in certain parts of California. On the right was an extensive plain, generally barren, but showing occasional green patches; and on the left a rugged range of mountains, not very high, but strongly marked by volcanic signs. We passed several lonely little huts, the occupants of which rarely made their appearance. Sheep, goats, and sometimes horses, dotted the pasture-lands. There was not much vegetation of any kind save patches of grass and brushwood. A species of white moss covered the rocks in places, presenting the appearance of hoar-frost at a short distance.
THE GEYSERS. Upon turning the point of a hill where our trail was a little elevated above the great valley, Zöega called my attention to a column of vapor that seemed to rise ont of the ground about ten miles distant. For all I could judge, it was smoke from some settler's cabin situated in a hollow of the slope.
“What's that, Zöega ?” I asked.
“That's the Geysers, sir," he replied, as coolly as if it were the commonest thing in the world to see the famous Geysers of Iceland.
“ The Geysers! That little thing the Geysers ?”
I may as well confess at once that I was sadly disappointed. It was a pleasure, of course, to see what I had read of and pictured to my mind from early boyhood; but this contemptible little affair looked very much like a humbug. A vague idea had taken possession of my mind that I would see a whole district of country shooting up hot water and sulphurous våpors—a kind of hell upon earth; but that thing ahead of us—that little curl of smoke on the horizon looked so peaceful, so inadequate a result of great subterranean fires, that I could not but feel some resentment toward the travelers who had preceded me, and whose glowing accounts of the Geysers had deceived me. At this point of view it was not at all equal to the Geysers of California. I had a distinct recollection of the great cañon between Russian River Valley and Clear Lake, the magnificent hills on the route, the first glimpse of the infernal scene far down in the bed of the cañon, the boiling, hissing waters, and clouds of vapor whirling up among the rocks, the towering crags on the opposite side, and the noble forests of oak and pine that spread "a boundless contiguity of shade” over the wearied traveler, and I must say a patriotic pride took possession of my soul. We had beaten the world in the production of gold; our fruits were finer and our vegetables larger than any ever produced in other countries; our men taller and stronger, our women prettier and more prolific, our lawsuits more extensive, our fights the best ever gotten up, our towns the most rapidly built and rapidly burned-in short, every thing was on a grand, wide, broad, tall, fast, overwhelming scale, that bid defiance to competition, and now I was satisfied we could
even beat old Iceland in the matters of Geysers. I really felt a contempt for that little streak of smoke. Perhaps something in the expression of my eye may have betrayed my thoughts, for Zoega, as if he felt a natural pride in the wonders of Iceland and wished them to be properly appreciated, hastily added, “But you must not judge of the Geysers by what you now see, sir! That is only the little Geyser. He don't blow up much. The others are behind the first rise of ground.”
“That may be, Zöega. I have no doubt they are very fine, but it is not within the bounds of possibility that they should equal the Geysers of California.”
“ Indeed, sir! I didn't know you had Geysers there."
“Didn't know it! Never heard of the Geysers of California ?”
“Well, Zöega, that is remarkable. Our Geysers are the finest, the bitterest, the smokiest, the noisest, the most infernal in the world; and as for mountains, our Shasta Bute would knock your Mount Hecla into a cocked hat !”
“Is it possible!"
“And have you great lava-beds covering whole valleys as we have here ?”
“Certainly—only they are made of gold. We call them Placers—Gold Placers.”
“A wonderful country, sir !"
And so we talked, Zöega and I, as we jogged along pleasantly on our way. Our ride, after we caught the first sight of the smoke, continued for some two hours over a series of low hills, with little green valleys lying between, till we came to an extensive bog that skirts the base of the Langarfjal, a volcanic bluff forming the background of the Geysers. It was now becoming interesting. Half an hour more would settle the matter conclui