Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 133.djvu/107

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of climate and season, has scarcely—except perhaps in a manufactured novel—a story of the kind to recount. Russian folk-lore, that demoniacal menagerie of strange shapes and preternatural existences, has been elaborated amid the most undiversified, the dreariest monotony of scenery that Europe or Asia can afford; while tedious legends of saints and virgins, pale transcripts at most, equally devoid of feeling and of originality, are all that the romantic and awe-inspiring scenery of Spain has produced to the world. Just so, to adduce an oft-noted illustration, the most exquisitely carved and choicely painted images are rarely the objects of popular devotion, or accredited with supernatural power; while the miracles of some hideous discolored daub, or very commonplace doll, are reckoned by thousands. Either, then, it would seem, the source, the origin, of these strange imaginings is wholly within us ourselves, or if without us, it is something not to be analyzed or explained by actual sense.

Be this as it may, the Boiling Lake has, for aught that we could discover, remained a mere natural phenomenon for Indians and Creoles no less than for Europeans, up to the present day; and when we were about, however reluctantly, to take our leave of this wonder-abounding spot, and one of our attendant negroes, turning back, addressed the vaporous gulf with a cabalistic "Salaam-Aleykum" picked up from some African cousin of Mohammedan origin, he gave the first and only expression of superstition aroused by the view.

For ourselves a more prosaic consideration suggested itself to our minds, as, tired with rambling and scrambling (there is high authority just now for dualistic phrases of the sort, and my readers may pass me this one), we rested ourselves by a little spring, not far from our ajoupa, in a narrow hill-shaded glen, and drank the chalybeate waters, sparkling with carbonic gas, that welled up at our feet, amid a matted growth of golden fern, wild flowers, and giant moss. What a magnificent sanatorium might not be erected here, beside the waters, sulphureous or ferruginous, of every temperature, every quality, for bath or drink, here, amid the pure cool atmosphere of the heights, an atmosphere that might alone seem a sufficient restorative for impaired health, and strength exhausted by the lowland heats. By the margin of sources absolutely unimportant and inefficient compared to these, the French colonists of Martinique have erected the baths and sanatoriums of the Eaux du Précheur, the Eaux Didier, and the Eaux St. Michel; and yet are they not in this respect almost outstripped by the Anatolian Turk, who has constructed cupolas and lodging apartments by the side of every ilijih, or "healing," as he names the hot mineral springs of his nature-favored land? Have we then yet to take sanitary lessons from the Turk? or to learn from the French the right use to be made of the goods the gods provide us?

But it is not man, it is Nature herself that is here in fault. She has, in the Grande Soufriere and Boiling Lake of Dominica, fenced in her treasures with such rugged barriers, interposed so many obstacles to access, that all the financial resources of the Leeward Confederation, and of the Windward too—if our Barbadian friends ever permit its formation—would fail to make, not a carriage-road, but even a tolerable bridle-path from the coast up to these heights. "Once in a twelvemonth is enough for an expedition like this," was the unanimous verdict of our party when, in the dusk of evening, we at last reached Laudat, and found ourselves with just enough strength remaining to mount our horses and ride slowly down the Roseau valley, partly illuminated by a crescent moon, and more so by innumerable fireflies, each a living burning lamp, and re-entered Roseau late on the second night after our departure. Many others than ourselves will, I hope, in the course of time visit what we visited, and admire what we admired; but none will, I think, enjoy themselves more, or carry away pleasanter recollections, not of scenery and soufrière only, but of cheerful companions and good fellowship, than it was our good fortune to do.



Nils Jensen lay on the flat of his back on the hillside, with his hands locked behind his head, his long pipe dangling from the corner of his mouth, and his eyes fixed upon the cloudless sky, which was scarcely bluer than they. A circle of solemn little white-headed children squatted round him, listening intently to the story which he was relating, in a leisurely manner, between the whiffs of his pipe—his full, deep voice rising and falling in a pleasant, musi-