Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/470

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into marked relief all the incidents of the view. There is something bracing in the very appearance of the landscape, to which the noble river is an ever-fitting foreground.

At Storbachen the river has to be exchanged for the road, and a country cart holding two persons, and with or without an apology for springs as chance may determine, carries the tourist along the banks of the Little Luleä to Jockmock, a distance of some thirty miles. This drive is in itself a unique experience. The road after wet weather is cut up into deep ruts, in and out of which the cart plunges with a violence most discomforting to its occupants, who are bruised and pounded without the possibility of resistance. It must be admitted that the process detracts from the pleasure of the excursion, which in other respects is extremely interesting. The route lies for the whole day through the almost trackless forests. Hardly a human being is to be met in these immense solitudes, and the silence is only broken occasionally by the note of some strange bird or the movement of the wind through the trees. In many places forest-fires have ravaged the country for great distances, and everywhere there is a vista of blackened stems or falling trunks. In contrast to this desolation, where the fire has not passed, the ground is carpeted with the most luxuriant mosses and lichens in all the tints of green and red and yellow, while an occasional clearing, though at very rare intervals, relieves from time to time a sense of utter loneliness by the evidence it gives of the neighborhood of human beings.

The forests cover nearly one-half of the whole surface of Sweden, and constitute an important part of the wealth of the country and the revenue of the Government. In past times they were very carelessly managed, and in many cases were sold outright and without conditions to merchants, who ruthlessly cut down the timber with sole regard to their immediate interests. The pine is of very slow growth, increasing only one inch in diameter in ten years, and reaching twelve to fourteen inches in a century; and the wholesale destruction of young wood has left large tracts desolate and unprofitable for an indefinite period. The soil is excessively poor, consisting of sand with the thinnest possible coating of vegetable mould, so that no ordinary cultivation is possible.

Now the forests are strictly looked after, and no land is sold; but the right of cutting wood, limited to trees of ten inches and upward in diameter, is let for a term of years and by tender, at so much per tree. In the remote districts the royalty is about 1s. 3d. per tree, and the lessees have in addition to carry out works for deepening the rivers and keeping them clear of all obstructions. Twenty years ago the value of trees on the ground was not more than threepence or four-pence apiece.

From Jockmock to the end of the journey at Quickjock the mode of traveling and the scenery are again changed. The head-waters of