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who did it; and as to your loss, you must have told a lie, for I hear it was only a few months ago that, under the plea of destitution, you were exempted from the watch-tax." 'My lord," replied the widow, "it is very true that I pleaded poverty, and poor enough I am; nevertheless, I have been robbed of a thousand and fifty rupees. You may believe me or not, as you please; my history is this. Some forty years ago, or more, my husband was a merchant, well-to-do in this town; but after a time his affairs fell into disorder, and when he died his creditors seized everything but this house in payment for his debts. When dying he told me that certain moneys had long been due to him in the holy city of Muttra. Accordingly I went there, and collected something more than two thousand rupees, with which I returned here, and I have lived ever since on this sum." "What," I interrupted, "have you lived on this money for forty years, and yet have a thousand and fifty rupees, nearly half, left?" "Yes," said she, “I opened my treasure once a month, and took out two rupees, which lasted me and my niece for the month." 'Why," I remarked, "at this rate you had enough for the next forty years; why could you not pay the tax ?-how much was it?" "Two pyce a month," she replied, "and all widows are exempt." "Yes," remarked a bystander, "if they are poor; but you are as rich as Lakhsmi (the Hindu goddess of fortune). I believe that Kali has sent this misfortune on you for your lying; do you recollect when you were assessed at one anna, how

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you wept and tore your hair, and said you vere starving? You are a sad liar by your own account, and are well served. I hope if you ever recover your money the Sahib will make you pay it up with arrears." Oh," said the widow, clasping her hands, "restore me my money, and I will pay for the rest of my life."

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As I suspected, from the different circumstances which had transpired, that the nephew was in some way connected with the robbery, I directed his house to be searched, but nothing which could in any way implicate him was found. Despairing, then, of discovering the criminal, I mounted my horse, and after telling the police to be on the look-out, I set off towards my tents. I had ridden some little way, conning the matter over in my mind, when it struck me how very singular it was that the khojia should persist in it that only one of the thieves had left the house. As the walls were very high, and as there was but the one door to the courtyard, it seemed as if the thief must still be inside. "Pooh, pooh!" I cried, "the thing is out of the question; did we not search the house? And, after all, what could a thief be doing there? The khojia is trying to mystify me." However, I was not satisfied; after riding a little farther I *urned round and galloped back. I said to the police, who had not yet left, "We must have another search," and upon this my myrmidons spread themselves over the premises. While they were searching I began to pace up and down, with some little impatience, I confess, as the thought struck me of the bootless errand on which I had returned.

Suddenly I heard a policeman exclaim, "I have

not seen him, but I have seen his eye," and as he spoke he pointed to one side of the courtyard near where he stood. On examining the spot we discovered what appeared to be a small air-hole to some vaults, and from this the man persisted he had seen an eye glisten. Turning to the widow, I demanded what places there were underground, when she explained that there were subterraneous vaults which had never been open since her husband's death, and which she had not thought of mentioning when we first searched the house. "A second case of Guy Fawkes," thought I. "Show me the entrance. I dare say some one is down there; though why any one should be such a fool as to hide there passes my understanding." The old dame accordingly showed me a small door in a retired part of the courtyard, which had hitherto escaped observation. By it we descended to some very extensive vaults, and after some search dragged out a man. He had not the money about his person, but after some little hesitation showed us where it was concealed, at the foot of one of the pillars. He confessed that he belonged to a village in the vicinity, that the nephew had induced him to join in robbing the old lady, whose treasures he had for a long time suspected. seemed that the thief had slept part of the night in the nephew's house, and that they had been prevented from effecting the robbery till late in the night from the numbers of the people who were about, and consequently the morning had broken before they had time to divide the booty, or dispose of it in any safe place. In the hurry and confusion it had seemed best that he should hide in the vaults, where it was supposed that none would think of looking; for the nephew was afraid to conceal him in his own house, or to allow him to pass out of the town with such a large sum in silver, lest, being recognised by some of the guards at the postern as a stranger, he should be stopped and searched. When the nephew was confronted with his accomplice, his effrontery forsook him, and he confessed that he had seen the old woman smoothing the earth in the recess one day as he stood at the threshold; and from this circumstance, coupled with her always being in that part of the house, he had suspected that she had property concealed.


When the coin was produced, the woman recognised her money-bags; and on opening and count-ing the money we found the exact sum she had stated, namely, one thousand and fifty rupees, or about one hundred and five pounds in English money; so that this poor creature had lived on about four shillings a month, and even supported part of that time a little niece! While the money was being counted, and her receipt written out, I said, "You had much better give this money to a banker, who will allow you seven or eight per cent. for it, and in whose hands it will be perfectly safe; otherwise now that folks know you are so rich, being a lonely, helpless old woman, you will certainly have your throat cut." "No, no," cried the old harridan, as she grasped her bags in an agony lest I should take them from her; no! I will bury it where no one will ever know." I accordingly allowed her to go off with her


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treasures; and out she trotted, bending under the weight of her money-bags.

I may have failed in giving an interest to this story, but it certainly made a considerable impression on my mind at the time. The avarice and parsimony of the old woman who, bending under the weight of old age, and possessed of wealth which she could never hope to enjoy, yet grudged the payment of two pyce a month to defend her from spoliation, if not from being murdered; the villainy of the nephew, with his utter want of common sense and prudence in concealing his accomplice in the very premises which they had just robbed; the acuteness and discernment of the tracker, in so ably, I may say, deciphering the history of the transaction from the very faint footmarks,

altogether formed a picture which it was not uninteresting to contemplate. Of the subsequent fate of the widow I do not recollect anything, as I shortly afterwards left that part of the country; but if she escaped being robbed, she concealed her treasures in some out-of-the-way place, which, when she dies, her heirs will fail to discover. In this way, no doubt, large sums are annually lost, for although property is remarkably safe in this country, and a very large rate of interest always to be got, the people are very much addicted to concealing coin and jewels, probably from habits they acquired in former times, when seldom a year passed that a village or even town was not laid under contribution, or stormed and plundered by the Mahratta and Pindari hordes.



EYOND the knowledge that the Geysers and the frequently active volcano Hekla are located on the island but little is known by the generality of Englishmen of Iceland. Few have visited the island or studied its literature: Yet it is by no means far distant from our shores, the southernmost point of the island lying but some five hundred geographical miles in a straight line north-west of Duncansby Head, while the capital, Reykjavík, is but three and a half days' easy steam from Leith. Equally vague are the ideas generally prevalent as to the extent of the island and the number and nature of its inhabitants. It is thought to be an exceedingly barren Arctic edition of Stromboli, with Hekla as a central volcanic peak, inhabited by a hybrid race between the Laplander and the Esquimaux, and that these live in wretched hovels, and chiefly subsist on whale-blubber and fish.

The area of Iceland is 38,000 English square miles, or about one-seventh greater than that of Ireland, and by the last census its inhabitants numbered 72,000. The Icelanders are a race very closely allied to ourselves, being of Scandinavian descent, and are a law-abiding, peaceful people, as patriotic as the Swiss and more hardy. They are very hospitable, and a night's lodging is never refused a traveller, native or alien, even at the very humblest home. Moreover-and to their honour be it said -this isolated people, living midway between the Old and New Worlds, long since solved the two great social problems-the maintenance of the poor and the education of the young, and a beggar and an Icelander who can neither read nor write are alike unknown. The whole of the male population, save the few employed in the stores in the capital and at the trading stations round the coasts, gain their livelihood by breeding sheep and ponies, and by fishing. There is no arable land beyond a small patch, usually of less than half an acre in extent, walled in with turf and

stones, in the vicinity of the better class of farmhouses, and planted with potatoes and turnips. Cereals will not arrive at maturity owing to the shortness of the summer; consequently the sole care of the Icelandic farmer is to garner in as much hay as possible in the autumn, for upon the greater or lesser quantity secured depends the number of breeding stock he will be able to keep through the winter. The clergy and the subordinate officials-likewise the few handicraftsmen, such as saddlers, tinsmiths, carpenters, and even watchmakers, scattered about the country-are also invariably farmers, as the livings of the priests and salaries of the officials range from £30 to £100 a year only, very few receiving within 20 or 30 of the larger amount. The farmers living on the coast are always sea fishermen as well as breeders of sheep and ponies, and a considerable number of farm labourers and the sons of well-to-do farmers from the interior find employment in cod-fishing in the spring of the year, when there is no work for them at the inland farms.

It will be evident from the foregoing that the chief exports of the Icelanders will be sheep and ponies, wool and salt fish. A considerable quantity of eiderdown is also exported, chiefly to the Continent via Denmark, for every little rocky holm and promontory around the coast is the breeding-place of the valuable eider-duck.

The religion of the Icelanders is the Lutheran,

one spot on earth where schism and religious disputes are alike unknown. The island is a Danish possession, to which "Home Rule" has recently been conceded.

The year 1874 was the thousandth anniversary of the settlement of Iceland by two Norse colonists, and the King of Denmark, in excellent taste, visited the island and presented the people with a new constitution, granting them many

privileges which they did not before possess. The House of Representatives, named the Althing, as reconstituted, consists of thirty members, elected by the people of Iceland, and six appointed by the King of Denmark. It is divided into two Houses, the Upper and Lower, the Upper containing the six members appointed by the King and six others elected from the general body of the Althing. A noble stone building has recently been erected in the capital, in which the Althing will for the future hold its sittings. The sessions are biennial, and generally continue from June till September, and so long as the House sits the members in attendance receive six kroner (about 6s. 9d.) per diem. Besides the six members of the Althing nominated by him, the King also appoints a governor, resident throughout the year in Iceland, and an Icelandic secretary at Copenhagen. Iceland contributes nothing towards the general State expenditure of Denmark, and neither has it any representative in the Danish Rigsdag. The Icelandic secretary is responsible to that House with reference to all matters connected with the government of Iceland.

Until within about ten years since the trade with Iceland was solely in the hands of a few Danish merchants, and a most iniquitous "truck" system prevailed. The Icelander was compelled to part with his sheep and wool and a few other products for what the Danish merchant at the nearest trading-post pleased to give, for there was no other market; and he had to take meal and coffee and other necessaries-all of the vilest quality-at whatever price the Danish merchant pleased to place upon the articles.. Happily this is all changed now for the better, for foreign competition has compelled the Danish merchants to treat the Icelanders with something approaching to fairness.

Under the favourable auspices of free trade and the introduction of money among them-under the "truck" system money was virtually unknown -the Icelanders have made giant strides to raise themselves from the apathetic, listless, hopeless state into which they had sunk under Danish oppression. Many of the larger farmers, finding that they had now a far more remunerative market for their sheep and ponies than formerly, commenced to extend their home-lying pastures by draining or irrigating, as occasion required, extensive tracts adjacent to their farms that more hay might be harvested and a larger breeding stock carried through the winters. Others clubbed their money together and bought larger boats that the sea-fishing might be prosecuted with greater vigour. And last but not least, the increased trade brought about regular and frequent steamer communication during the summer and autumn months, and a large number of tourists, increasing yearly, now visit the island, attracted by the grand volcanic phenomena and glacier scenery, or the excellent sport obtainable with rod and gun.

Thus Iceland, during the last decade, was year by year becoming more and more prosperous, until last year, when, sad to relate, the bright outlook for the future received a sudden check. When I landed at Reykjavík, one-third of the

inhabitants of that place were suffering from, or but just recovering from, the measles. Fortunately there was no smallpox, as had been rumoured in England before I left to be the case; had there been, the same steamer that took me out would have brought me home again. The epidemic spread over the greater part of the island, the inhabitants of only a few parishes wholly escaping the contagion. In the country districts the percentage of deaths was inconsiderable compared with the death-rate in the capital, where, out of a population of about three thousand souls, over two hundred and fifty succumbed to this disease.

It must be explained here that the Icelander does not have measles in his infancy, as is the case with children in England, and consequently is very susceptible to what we look upon as a mere childish ailment, and pretty certain to catch the disease should he come into contact with a person suffering from it. For thirty-five years measles had been unknown in Iceland, accordingly the major part of the population had not secured that immunity which one attack almost invariably confers for the rest of one's life. A passenger by the Danish mail steamer was landed at Reykjavík earlier in the year, suffering from the disease, and an epidemic followed as a matter of


The capital, it may be imagined, had a very gloomy appearance, with one or more sick persons in nearly every house, and mournful faces meeting one at every turn; but far more serious was the state of affairs in the northern half of the island. In June, just as the inhabitants of this hyperborean region were looking forward to warmer weather, the Polar floe-ice, as had frequently happened before, came drifting down upon the coast and into the fjords and bays from the middle of June until far into the month of August; notwithstanding the sun was above the horizon the greater part of the twenty-four hours, the coast remained widely fringed, and the fjords and bays filled with ice. During the whole of this period a continuous struggle took place for the mastery between the chill gales from the north and the warm ones from the south, and north of the mountainous plateau of the interior of the island the weather was consequently wild and stormy, with an abnormal rainfall and dense fogs. Abundance of grass was brought forth, and the sheep and ponies found plenty of pasture; but the farmers were unable to make it into hay, and without hay or fodder from abroad their live stock would be liable to perish during the winter.* The ice cut off all communication with the northern ports, and some inconvenience was caused by the vessels bound thither with supplies of meal, flour, coffee, etc., not reaching their destinations. Happily the Icelanders living in the north, taught by the sad experience of former years, never fail every autumn to lay in a stock of necessaries sufficient to carry them far into the next summer, consequently there was no dearth of breadstuffs.

By the latest steamer from Iceland it is reported that the winter there has been, very fortunately, an exceptionally mild one.

The failure of the hay crop in the north necessitated the selling off and slaughtering of a considerable number of sheep and ponies that would otherwise have been kept alive for breeding purposes, and it will be some years before the breeding stock of the northern farmers will be again brought up to the number owned by them in 1881. A far greater number would have been sold and killed had not the weather last autumn, after the ice left the coast, been exceptionally fine and mild, and a considerable quantity of hay and fodder been dispatched from Denmark for the relief of the farmers.

Having given my readers a short account of the troubles of the Icelanders last year, I will turn to a pleasanter theme-to summer touring in their wonderful island home, where at the very foot of extensive glaciers fountains of boiling water "erupt their steaming columns high." To any one who has a summer vacation of from one month to three and a wish to see a country differing widely from the countries of Europe frequented by tourists, let him turn his wandering footsteps in the direction of Iceland.

The Leith and Iceland Shipping Company run two steamers during the summer and autumn months at regular intervals of about a fortnight between Granton and the capital of Iceland. The length of the direct voyage is from three and a-half to four days only. The interval between the arrival of the steamer at the capital on one voyage and her departure therefrom homewardbound the next is from fourteen to eighteen days; and those whose absence from England is limited to a month can in that short time make a very pleasant tour to the three most famous of the "lions" of Iceland, viz.: (1) Thíngvellir (Thing-fields), a wild, romantic spot, rich in historical interest, for here, as far back as the lawless days of the tenth century, an insulated mass of lava, in the midst of a deeply-fissured, lava-covered plain, was selected as the meeting-place of the Althing, or House of Representatives; (2) the world-renowned Geyser; and (3) the equally famous volcano Hekla. Also on this tour two very fine waterfalls will be seen, the Gullfoss (Gold-fall) on one of the large glacier-fed rivers, and the fall formed by smaller river that leaps into the largest of the rifts at Thingvellir. By returning via the south coast the solfatarar at Krísuvík, with their boiling mud-cauldrons, hot springs, live sulphur-pits-i.e., spots where the sublimation of this mineral is taking place-and other interesting volcanic phenomena, will likewise be seen. The tourist, if an angler, may obtain in addition a day or two's very fair trout-fishing either in the Bruará or Sog rivers. The cost of this highly interesting tour, including the hire of ponies, guide, etc., also first cabin passage and provisions to and from Scotland, will not exceed £30 if the tour is made by two persons travelling in company, and it may even be done for a trifle less if a party of about half a dozen arrange to travel together.

It must be explained here that all travelling in Iceland is with ponies. There are no roads and, of course, no wheel vehicles, nothing but bridlepaths from place to place. Save in the capital

and at the chief trading-posts there are no inns or hotels, but food and lodging are readily obtainable at every farm or parsonage throughout the island. In the better class of farmhouses one room at least is kept exclusively for the use of travellers, never being used by the "home-folk " save at a marriage or Yuletide festival. During the last few years the island has been visited by a number of English ladies, and the fact that several have repeated their visit again and again speaks very favourably for the attractions of the island, and proves that travel there is not so rough as is generally believed. No lady should visit Iceland without first perusing Miss Oswald's excellent work, "By Fell and Fjord," for this adventurous young lady passed no less than four summers there, and, besides excellent advice as to ladies' outfit, she gives charmingly-written accounts of her journeyings and outlines of the more interesting of the Sagas, in which are recorded the deeds of the famous Vikings who in days lang syne sought a home in Iceland.

Ponies are readily obtainable in the capital, and likewise Icelanders more or less acquainted with the English tongue, who will act in the double capacity of interpreter and guide. The hire of a pony is invariably two kroner (one kroner equals is. 1d.) per diem, and the wages of a guide range from four to five kroner. The ponies are sure-footed and good-tempered little brutes, between eleven and thirteen hands high, so that a person who has never been in the saddle before can ride them without fear of mishap.

Travel in Iceland during the months of July and August is, to my mind, more delightful than in any other of the numerous parts of the globe to which my nomadic instinct has led me. In the first place, there is virtually no night in such a high latitude, and one may therefore extend his journey to points of interest other than those to which a visit was contemplated on setting out without fear of being benighted. Iceland, moreover, is not only a pleasant country, but it is also a safe one to travel in, there not being a single instance on record of a traveller having been robbed or assaulted.

The scenery of Iceland has a wild, weird beauty of its own, quite unlike what is to be seen elsewhere. One hour the tourist will be wending his way through a thickly-peopled valley with rich pastures and many cattle and sheep, and the next his pony will be slowly picking its way with difficulty over a bristling, awe-inspiring lava-flood of vast extent, with enormous rugged masses piled up in the wildest confusion on either hand, and not a sign of life visible. This fire-blasted wilderness again will be left behind and a landscape of quite another character will open to the view. Rounding the spur of some mountain, a tranquil lake, or one of the numerous beautiful fjords which run inland for many miles, will be seen lying perhaps a couple of thousand feet beneath one, with lofty snow-capped mountains rising one behind the other on the opposite shore. Tremendous rifts, extending for miles, the work of quite recent as well as pre-historic earthquakes, are a common feature of an Icelandic landscape;

as also are groups of hot springs, where boiling water bubbles forth like cold in an ordinary spring in less wonderful lands, and a cloud of steam ascends like the misty spray that marks where a mighty river leaps into space. Often also will this be seen beckoning the tourist to direct his footsteps to waterfalls unsurpassed in Europe for height, or the gloomy grandeur of the chasms into which the impetuous waters leap, for Iceland is indeed rich in magnificent cascades and picturesque rapids, three of its principal rivers coursing downwards over a thousand feet in a distance of a few miles. The Icelandic falls, un

like those of most other

countries, are to be seen in the greatest perfection in the height of summer, for the chief ones occur on glacierfed rivers that have a greater body of water when the weather is intensely hot than at any other season of the year. And last but not least, there are upwards of twenty volcanic vents, which have been witnessed in active eruption during historical times, and no less than eighty-nine eruptions are recorded!

Hekla is the best-known volcano on the

this volcano have rendered a larger tract uninhabitable than all the other volcanoes together. When the first settlers landed the country in its vicinity was one of the most fertile regions in the whole island, and it is now a hideous waste of sand and ashes.

The most important and interesting of the Icelandic volcanoes is situated a few miles to the east of the centre of the island, in the midst of the almost impassable lava-deserts of the interior. It is named Askja (Basket), and although it has erupted time after time since the settlement


island; it is easily accessible, and a number of English lady tourists have ascended to its summit. It is credited with seventeen eruptions, but it is doubtful if so many have taken place from this mountain, as usually, whenever an eruption occurs, it is placed to Hekla's credit, until some stranger visits the spot where it really took place and makes the exact locality known to the savans of Reykjavík. The last eruption from this mountain occurred in 1845, but in 1878 an eruption of lava took place in the midst of a desert some miles north-east of Hekla. The next best-known volcano is the Kötlugjá, a vast crater-fissure amidst the glaciers of an ice-crowned mountain named the Mýrdals Jökull. It is credited with thirteen eruptions, the last in 1860. Since the settlement of the island the eruptions from

of the island, it had never been visitedat least, for several centuries-until 1875. It is a vast, almost circular, crater, between seventeen and eighteen miles in circumference, encircled with an iceclad mountainwall attaining an altitude of over five thousand feet above sea-level. On the 4th January of the year mentioned a terrific explosion took place somewhere in the interior, and smoke was immediately after seen ascending from Askja. A party of Icelanders crossed the desert on snow-shoes to

the volcano,


and they found that a mass of the lava-deposits in the crater, five miles in circumference and of unknown but immense thickness, had been disrupted and sunk into the bowels of the mountain to a depth of over seven hundred feet! The concussion on the 4th January was so great that it caused an earthquake felt over the whole island, but most severely in the northeast, where rifts of immense depth, and over twenty miles in length, were torn in the rocky strata forming that part of the island. greatest disturbance at a distance from the volcano occurred in a desert region known as the Mývatns Oræfi, and here from a vast fissure molten lava welled forth nearly continuously for four months after the earthquake. The fissure commences at a spot distant thirty miles from the sub


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