« السابقةمتابعة »
is packed so hard sometimes on hill-slopes that it will bear your weight. What grace is in all the curves, as if every one of them had been swept by that inspired thumb of Phidia's journeyman.
Poets have fancied the footprints of the wind in those light ripples that sometimes scurry across smooth water with a sudden blur. But on this gleaming hush the aërial deluge has left plain marks of its course; and in gullies through which it rushes torrent-like, the eye finds its bed irregularly scooped like that of a brook in hard beach-sand, or, in more sheltered spots, traced with outlines like those left by the sliding edges of the surf upon the shore.
Nor is the wind the only thing whose trail you will notice on this sensitive surface. You will find that you have more neighbors and night visitors than you dreamed of.
dreamed of. Here is the dainty footprint of a cat; here a dog has looked in on you like an amateur watchman to see if all is right, slumping clumsily about in the mealy treachery. And look! before you were up in the morning, though you were a punctual courtier at the sun's levee, here has been a squirrel zigzagging to and fro like a hound gathering scent, and some tiny bird searching for unimaginable food — perhaps for the tinier creature, whatever it is, that drew this slender continuous trail like those made on the wet beach by light borderers of the sea.
The snow that falls damp comes commonly in larger flakes from windless skies, and is the prettiest of all to watch from under cover. This sort of snowfall has no fight in it, and does not challenge you to a wrestle like that which drives from the northward, with all moisture thoroughly winnowed out of it by the frosty wind. But the damper and more deliberate falls have a choice knack at draping the trees; and about eaves or stone walls, wherever, indeed, the evaporation is rapid, and it finds a chance to cling, it will build itself out in curves of wonderful beauty. I have seen one of these dumb waves, thus caught in the act of breaking, curl four feet beyond the edge of my roof and hang there for days, as if Nature were too well pleased with her work to let it crumble from its exquisite poise.
After such a storm, if you are lucky enough to have even a sluggish ditch for a neighbor, be sure to pay it a visit. You will find its banks corniced with what seems precipitated light, and the dark current down below gleams as if with an inward lustre. Dull of motion as it is, you never saw water that seemed alive before. It has a brightness like that of the eyes of some smaller animals, which gives assurance of life, but of a life foreign and unintelligible.
sen'si-bil'i-ties, tastes, feelings, emo- re-tain'er, one who is held in service; tions.
a servant or dependent. cyn'ic, a snarler ; one who holds har’bin-ger, a forerunner, a messenmorose views.
ger. quoth'a, indeed, forsooth.
THE NORTHMEN AND THEIR
It is doubtless very savage, that kind of valor of the old Northmen. Snorro tells us they thought it a shame and misery not to die in battle; and if natural death seemed to be coming on, they would cut wounds in their flesh, that Odin might receive them as warriors slain. Old kings about to die had their bodies laid into a ship, the ship sent forth, with sails set and slow fire burning it, that, once out to sea, it might blaze up in flame, and in such manner bury worthily the old hero, at once in the sky and in the ocean! Wild bloody valor; yet valor of its kind; better, I say, than none.
In the old seakings, too, what an indomitable, rugged energy!
The old Norse songs have a truth in them, an inward perennial truth and greatness, — as, indeed, any must have that can very long preserve itself by tradition alone. It is a greatness not of mere body and gigantic bulk, but a rude greatness of soul.
One of Thor's expeditions to Utgard (the Outer Garden, central seat of Jötun-land) is remarkable in this respect. Thialfi was with him, and Loke. After various adventures, they entered upon Giantland; wandered over plains, wild uncultivated places, among stones and trees. At nightfall they noticed a house; and as the door, which indeed formed one whole side of the house, was open, they entered. It was a simple habitation: one large hall, altogether empty. They stayed there.
Suddenly, in the dead of the night, loud noises alarmed them. Thor grasped his hammer; stood in the door, prepared for fight. His companions within ran hither and thither in their terror, seeking some outlet in that rude hall; they found a little closet at last, and took refuge there. Neither had Thor any battle, for, lo, in the morning it turned .out that the noise had been only the snoring of a certain enormous but peaceable giant, the Giant Skrymir, who lay peaceably sleeping near by; and this that they took for a house was merely his glove, thrown aside there; the door was the glove-wrist; the little closet they had fled into was the thumb! Such a glove; I remark, too, that it had not fingers as ours have, but only a thumb, and the rest undivided — a most ancient, rustic glove!
Skrymir now carried their portmanteau all day. Thor, however, had his own suspicions, did not like the ways of Skrymir, determined at night to put an end to him as he slept. Raising his hammer, he struck down into the giant's face a right thunderbolt blow, of force to rend rocks. The giant merely awoke; rubbed his cheek, and said, “Did a leaf fall ?” Again Thor struck, so soon as Skrymir again slept, a better blow than before; but the
giant only murmured, “ Was that a grain of sand ?” Thor's third stroke was with both his hands, and seemed to dint deep into Skrymir's visage; but he merely checked his snore. At the gate of Utgard, a place so high that you had to “strain your neck bending back to see the top of it,” Skrymir went his ways.
Thor and his companions were admitted; invited to take share in the games going on. To Thor, for his part, they handed a drinking-horn; it was a common feat, they told him, to drink this dry at one draught. Long and fiercely, three times over, Thor drank; but made hardly any impression. He was a weak child, they told him. Could he lift that cat he saw there? Small as the feat seemed, Thor with his whole godlike strength could not; he bent up the creature's back, could not raise its feet off the ground, could at the utmost raise one foot.
Why, you are no man,” said the Utgard people; “there is an old woman that will wrestle you!" Thor, heartily ashamed, seized this haggard old woman, but could not throw her.
And now, on their quitting Utgard, the chief Jötun, escorting them politely a little way, said to Thor: “You are beaten then: yet be not so much ashamed; there was deception of appearance in it. That horn you tried to drink was the sea. You did make it ebb; but who could drink that, the bottom
The cat you would have lifted, — why, that