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clear, and not a breath of air stirring. As it grew lighter, we were surprised to find that our postilion was a girl. She had a heavy sheepskin over her knees, a muff for her hands, and a shawl around her head, leaving only the eyes
visible. This accoutred, she drove on merrily, and, except that the red of her cheeks became scarlet and purple, showed no signs of the weather.
The cold, however, played some grotesque pranks with us. My beard, moustache, cap, and fur collar were soon one undlivided lump of ice. Our eye-lashes became snow-white and heavy with frost, and it required constant motion to keep them from freezing together. We saw everything through visors barred with ivory. Our eyebrows and hair were as hoary as those of an octogenarian, and our cheeks a mixture of crimson and orange, so that we were scarcely recognizable by each other. Every one we met had snow-white locks, no matter how youthful the face, and whatever was the color of our horses at starting, we always drove milk-white steeds at the close of the post. The irritation of our nostrils occasioned the greatest inconve'nience, and as the handkerchiefs froze instantly, it soon became a matter of pain and difficulty to use them. You inight as well attempt to blow your nose with a poplar chip.
We could not bare our hands a minute without feeling an iron grasp of cold which seemed to squeeze the flesh like a vice, and turn the very blood to ice. In other respects we were warm and jolly, and I have rarely been in higher spirits. The air was exquisitely sweet and pure, and I could open my mouth (as far as its icy grating permitted) and inhale full draughts into the lungs with a delicious sensation of refreshment and exhilaration.
This was arctic travel at last. By Odin, it was glorious! The smooth, firm road, crisp and pure as alabaster, over which our sleigh-runners talked with the rippling, musical murmur of sunmer brooks; the sparkling, breathless firmament; the gorgeous rosy flush of morning, slowly deepening until the orange disc of the sun cut the horizon; the golden blaze of the tops of tho bronze firs; the glittering of the glassy birches; the long, dreary sweep of the landscape; the icy nectar of the perfect air; the tingling of the roused blood in every vein, all alert to guard the outposts of life against the besieging cold; it was superb! The natives themselves spoke of the cold as being unusually severe, 9.nd we congratulated ourselves all the more on our easy endur.
ance of it. Had we judged only by our own seisations, we should not have believed the temperature to be nearly so low.
The sun rose a little after ten, and I have never seen anything tiner than the spectacle which we then saw for the first time, but which was afterwards almost daily repeated—the illumination of the forests and snow-fields in his level orange beams, for ever? at midday he was not more than eight degrees above the hori.
The tops of the trees only were touched, still and solid as iron, and covered with sparkling frost-crystals, their trunks were changed to blazing gold, and their foliage to a fiery orange-brown. The delicate purple sprays of the birch, coated with ice, glittered like wands of topaz and amethyst, and the slopes of virgin snow, stretching towards the sun, shone with the fairest saffron gleams.
There is nothing equal to this in the South-nothing so transcendently rich, dazzling, and glorious. Italian dawns and twilights cannot surpass those we saw every day, not, like the former, fading rapidly into the ashen hues of dusk, but lingering for hour after hour with scarce a decrease of splendor. Strange that Nature should repeat these lovely aerial effects in such widely different zones and seasons! I thought to find in the winter landscapes of the far North a sublimity of death and desolation—a wild, dark, dreary monotony of expression-but I had, in reality, the constant enjoyment of the rarest, the tenderest, the most enchanting beauty.
The eople one meets along the road harmonize with these unexpected impressions. They are clear-eyed and rosy as the morning, straight and strong as the fir-saplings in their forests, and simple, honest, unsophisticated beyond any class of men I have ever seen. They are no milksops either. Under the serenity of those blue eyes and smooth, fair faces, burns the old Berserker rage, not easily kindled, but terrible as the lightning when once loosed. “The cold in climate are cold in blood,” sings Byron, but they are only cold through superior self-control and freedom from perverted passions. Better is the assertion of Tennyson :
“That bright, and fierce, and fickle is the South,
And dark, and true, and tender is the North.” There are tender hearts in the breasts of these northern men and women, albeit they are as undemonstrative as the English-on we Americans, for that matter. It is exhilarating to see such a people--whose digestion is sound, whose nerves are tough as whip-cord, whose blood runs in a strong full stream, whose im pulses are perfectly natural, who are good without knowing it and who are happy without trying to be so.
We made two Swedish miles by noon, and then took a breakfast of fried reindeer meat and pancakes, of which we ate enormously, to keep up a good supply of fuel. Braisted and I consumed about a pound of butter between us. This intense cold begets a necessity for fat, and with the necessity comes the taste—a wise provision of Nature! The consciousness 11.)W dawned upon me that I might be able to relish train-oil and tallow-candles before we had done with Lapland.
I had tough work at each station to get my head out of my wrappings, which were united with my beard and hair in one solid lump. The cold increased instead of diminishing, and by the time we reached Gumboda, at dusk, it was 40° below zero. When the thermometer was brought in, the mercury was frozen, and on unmuftling I found the end of my nose seared as if with a hot iron. The inn was capital; we had a warm carpeted room, beds of clean, lavendered linen, and all civilized appliances.
The weather became worse as we advanced, traversing the low, broad hills, through wastes of dark pine forests. The wind cut like a sharp sword in passing the hollows, and the drifting snow began to fill the tracks. We were full two hours in making the ten miles to Frostkage, and the day seemed scarcely nearer at hand. The leaden, lowering sky gave out no light, the forests were black and cold, the sun a dusky gray—such horribly dismal scenery I have rarely beheld. We warmed ourselves as well as we could, and started anew, having for postilions two rosy boys, who sang the whole way and played all sorts of mad antics with each other to keep from freezing.
At the next station we drank large quantities of hot milk, flavored with butter, sugar, and cinnamon, and then pushed on, with another chubby hop-oʻ-my-thumb as guide and driver. The storm grew worse and worse: the wind blew fiercely over the low hills, loaded with particles of snow as fine as the point of it needle and as hard as crystal, which struck full on my eyeballs and stung them so that they could scarcely see.
I had great difficulty in keeping my face from freezing, and my companion round his cheek touched.
By the time we reached Abyn it blew a hurricane, and we were compelled to stop. It was already dusk, and our cosy little room was doubly pleasant by contrast with the wild weather outside. Our cheerful landlady, with her fresh complexion and splendid teeth, was very kind and attentive, and I got on very well in conversation, notwithstanding her broad dialect. She was much astonished at my asking for a bucket of cold water for bathing. "Why," said she, “I always thought that if a person put his feet into cold water in winter, he would die immediately.” However, she supplied it, and was a little surprised to find me none the worse in the morning. I passed a terrible night from the pain in my face, and was little comforted, on rising, by the assurance that much snow had fallen. The mercury had risen to zero, and the wind still blew, although not so furiously as on the previous day. We therefore determined to set out and try to reach Pitea. The landlady's son, a tall young Viking, with yellow locks hanging on his shoulders, acted as postilion, and took the lead.
We started at nine, and found it lieavy enough at first. It was barely light enough to see our way, and we floundered slowly along through deep drifts for a mile, when we met the snow-plows, after which our road became easier. These plows are wooden frames, shaped somewhat like the bow of a shipin fact, I have seen very fair clipper models among them-about fifteen feet long by ten feet wide at the base, and so light that, if the snow is not too deep, one horse can manage them. The farmers along the road are obliged to turn out at six o'clock in the morning whenever the snow falls or drifts, and open a passage for travelers. Thus, in spite of the rigorous winter, communication is never interrupted, and the snow-road, at last, from frequent plowing, becomes the finest sleighing track in the world.
The wind blew so violently, however, that the furrows were soon filled up, and even the track of the baggage-sled, fifty yards in advance, was covered. There was one hollow where the drifts of loose snow were five or six feet deep, and here we were obliged to get out and struggle across, sinking to our loins at every step. It is astonishing how soon one becomes hardened to the cold Although the mercury stood at zero, with a violent storm, we rode with our faces fully exposed, frost-bites and all, and even drove with bare hands, without the least discomfort. But of the scenery we saw this day, I can give no description. There was nothing but long drifts and waves of spotless snow, some dim,
dark, spectral fir-trees on either hand, and beyond that a wili chaos of storm.
The snow came fast and blinding, beating full in our teeth. It was impossible to see; the fine particles so stung our eyeballs that we could not look ahead. My eyelashes were loaded with snow, which immediately turned to ice and froze the lids together, unless I kept them in constant motion. The storm bummed and buzzed through the black forests; we were all alone on the road, for even the pious Swedes would not turn out to church on such a day. It was terribly sublime and desolate, and I enjoyed it amazingly. We kept warm, although there was à crust of ice a quarter of an inch thick on our cheeks, and the ice in our beards prevented us from opening our mouths. At one o'clock we reached the second station, Gefre, unrecognizable by our nearest friends. Our eyelashes were weighed down with heavy fringes of frozen snow, there were icicles an inch long hanging to the eaves of our moustaches, and the bandkerchiefs which wrapped our faces were frozen fast to the flesh. The skin was rather improved by this treatment, but it took us a great while to thaw out.
TO THE NILE.
FROM “POEMS OF THE ORIENT.”
Hast wandered, century on century,
Which were not, but for thee,
Art thou the keeper of that eldest lore,
Written ere yet thy hieroglyphs began,
The earliest life of Man ?
Thou guardest temple and vast pyramid,
Where the gray Past records its ancient speech;
What they refuse to teach.
All other streams with human joys and fears
Run blended, o'er the plains of History:
Are as a day to thee.