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for bleaching, was fixed in the earth. boiling lye was then poured on the top of the linen, and gradually soaking through it to the bottom, was caught in a pot, which, when filled, was again put on the fire to be reboiled. While this soaking process was going on, a woman, hot and sooty, fed the fire with small branches of an evergreen from the hills, which, being green and wet, sent up volumes of smoke and crackled loudly behind the pots. The wattled fence was brown and crisp, the ground black and wet, strewed with ashes and fuel, empty pots, and unbleached linen. The poor woman in her blackened white dress was enveloped in smoke, and when she approached her line of pots to fling on more fuel, turned her head aside from the heat and flare which flushed her face and reddened her eyes. She said it was a difficult matter to live with all this labour, but what would it be without it? and therefore that she had no other remedy but to work as she was doing.
There were enclosures similar to this near many of the cottages in the village, and, as nearly all were in full action and the fuel was the same, the whole village was clouded over with a line
THE SEVEN CITIES.
of blue smoke which the winds wafted to the lake. When I first caught sight of these fumes from the edge of the precipice to which I so suddenly came, they appeared to rise from the cottages just as wreaths of wood-smoke curl up from the chimneys of English cottages.
After coming to the edge of the mountains, we wound round them to descend into the village. In so doing we made a circuit of half the crater, and saw it in great varieties of light and shadow. The path led along the border of the hills, which were only not perpendicular, and where a false step would assuredly have sent man and beast headlong into the lake, a fearful distance below, where men were diminished to the size of figures in a landscape, and the grey gulls, that skimmed round and dipped into its blue waters, were little larger than flakes of snow. It is curious, too, how systematically your asses, long familiarised with precipices, prefer the very outside edge of the path, where a fall is destruction, to the safe inside where your driver runs. No blows or persuasion could induce my beast, (which, like the horse bestrode by La Fleur, seemed "le plus opiniâtre du monde,") to take the safe side of the path.
A portion of the lake is separated from the larger one by a narrow causeway. It is singular to notice the difference made in the two pieces of water by this small embankment; for, while the large lake is clear and crystalline, this is thick, green, and muddy, and as gloomy as the Dead Sea, with no clouds, or birds, or bright sky, reflected in it.
Beyond this causeway was a promontory or peninsula, which, before it came into the hands of its present owner, was clothed, I was informed, with its natural covering of fayas, heaths, and evergreens, like the banks bordering the lake. But some good person (like the Cockney who fortified one of the islands of Derwentwater or Windermere, with red brick,)-with the wellmeaning intention of improving the natural beauty of the spot, has most effectually destroyed it. He has pared it down to a bare bank of yellow pumice, and out of the scrapings has made four equi-distant conical hills, stiff and formal, like archers' butts, two of which were turfed in with grass. In this state it has been abandoned, and, from whatever point it is seen, it destroys the graceful curve of the shore line, like a naked railway embankment. But the
puerilities of this wretched improver, who, had he known the golden rule of "working in the spirit of nature with the invisible hand of art," might have carried on his alterations with really good effect, were useful in one respect, for they afforded an explanation of the manner in which the numberless ravines, which seam the sides of nearly all the mountains in St. Michael's, were made. Two of the conical hills of pumice which had been scraped together on the peninsula were left unfinished, and the rain, which had fallen upon them, had washed them into the very same forms as many of the mountains in the neighbourhood assumed. There were the same inverted A ravines, beginning at the top in a narrow line, and opening widely towards the bottom, and the same accumulations at the mouth of the opening which might be noticed, in a remarkable degree, a short mile away on the shore of the lake.
Continuing to ride along the edge of the crater, we came in sight of a hamlet on the coast, in front of which, at a little distance from the shore, were several steep rocks, with precipitous sides and shelving tops. Near these are warm springs, which are covered by the tide at high water. Half an hour's ride from the
CATHERINA OF THE SEVEN CITIES. 249
ravine, down which these were seen, brought us to the village in the valley, where we halted for Here is a cottage belonging to one
the night. Catherina,
-an old woman, who can accommodate those who pay the Seven Cities a visit with two beds. To her house, accordingly, we went, and found her both at home and very glad to receive us. Catherina was a sallow, withered old woman, short and dumpy, with watery grey eyes, dry cheeks, and puckered lips, expressive of much cunning. She was sitting on a dirty bed on the floor, with children and chickens playing and picking about her, and, at the moment we made our appearance, was engaged in mending her dress. But when she saw my companion, whom she knew, she made a spring from her bed, came up to him, put her arms upon his shoulders, and poured out a flood of Portuguese, which, I may almost say, flowed on continually the whole time I saw her; for few neighbours passed by without some rapid sentence; and her daughter, her husband, ourselves, our ass-drivers, their asses, with her own, and her pigs and poultry, occupied the rest of her time, and allowed no rest to her tongue. There seemed to be no earthly means of stopping her. Although