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"We passed up into a fir wood that looked like a frost palace of the fairies."

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knowledge he displays of agriculture. From this the talk turned to the serious subject, for a Welshman, of the difference between poets and bards. But though our friend repeated the trite saying that poets are born and not made, with the emphasis of one who had been the first to discover the force and truth of it, as usual, like a true Welshman, he maintained that the bardic power was higher than the poetical, and we failed to get him to admit that even Virgil had any claim to the proud title of bard. It was interesting to note the effect of classical culture in producing a courteous urbanity in this son of the soil, shown in his apology to us, when addressing the landlady in Welsh, for using a language which we possibly did not understand.

It was our desire to reach Pen-y-gwryd that night, so to shorten the distance we turned into the mountain road near Gwydir, which leads towards Capel Curig. We passed up into a fir wood that looked like a frost palace of the fairies. No breath of air or rustle of a bird's wing was there to break the silence or ruffle the flakes of snow that lay upon the tufted fir boughs. At our feet the snow carpet was reddened with fir needles and broken with islands of ́velvet moss, and far out among the tree boles the grey twilight of the waning afternoon was barred with streaks of orange. Then we came upon a more open space where was a little lake partly frozen, with wildfowl rising above it, and away over Nant Francon, etherealized in its purity of whiteness, could be seen the snowcovered peak of Tryfan. But the sense of all this beauty did not prevent a feeling of annoyance when we found that we had missed our way, and had been working round a mountain, horseshoe fashion, to descend again into the Conway valley, with the mist of twilight now stealing over it, and to strike the road not many yards away from the point of departure. The result was that we did not reach Pen-y-gwryd that night. Bettws-y-coed, however, was a charming picture as we saw it on that Christmas Eve, lying under the quiet stars at the foot of snow-clad hills whose lower slopes were clothed with dark belts of woodland; with its lights twinkling through bare intertwining boughs, as we crossed the hoar-frosted bridge that spans the Llugwy, and heard the sweet strains of a Christmas hymn blending with the murmur of the waters as they hurried among the boulders. At the Royal Oak a meal was spread for us in a snug little room decked with

holly, and here by the glowing fire we were almost tempted to stay. But we had not yet abandoned the intention of reaching Harry Owen's or at least getting as far as Capel Curig; so, our meal ended, we started out again, but after two miles of walking over a road that seemed like a sheet of ice, we were fain to seek such accommodation as could be afforded to us at the inn by the Swallow Falls, and thus

Within the stranger's land

So strangely fell our Christmas Eve.

When we recall the wondrous beauty of the Christmas morning which followed we are disposed to lay down our pen in despair. How, for instance, can we describe the changeful beauty of that wintry sky, or reproduce the effect of a sunbeam striking through the mist over a snowy sea of mountain tops, or tell all we saw and felt as we sat on a boulder in the river bed beneath the roaring falls and smoked a pipe and marvelled at the delicate tints of rock and bough, of moss and lichen, and drift of faded leaves? As we walked along the old familiar road the surroundings seemed thoroughly in harmony with the season. There was a Christmas day tone about everything; about the homesteads in which the fires seemed to glow brighter than usual; about the people who passed to and fro on the road, on foot or in vehicles, all apparently on visiting errands intent. There was a deserted look about the inn at Capel Curig, carpets were rolled up and shutters closed; but under holly boughs in a little room behind there was a jovial company of Welshmen making merry over their cups.

Here we entered the region where winter had taken up its abode in earnest. Hitherto the sheltered low-lying pastures in the valleys had been green, but now there was snow everywhere-on Moel Siabod and the Glyders, and the dreary, treeless waste of Nant-y-Gwryd, that stretches away for miles into the central heart of the mountains. Snowdon and his giant fellows were shrouded with mist, with which the sun strove ineffectually, showing only for a moment a pale wan disc as he disappeared over a ridge of the mountains. We had lingered on the way, and it was late in the afternoon when we sighted the sturdy storm-beaten hostelry, with its forlorn and ragged fir-trees, perched in lonely solituuc in the mountain-girt space at the head of the three passes. Before we entered it we paused to look down the dusky vale of Gwynant,

where beyond the purple woods the mountain peaks stood out against a sky barred with fiery crimson. Go when you will to Pen-y-gwryd, in season and out of season, you are sure to find Harry Owen equal to the occasion. Though we had arrived unexpectedly in mid-winter there was no difficulty in meeting our wants. Before long a Christmas dinner was spread, to which six guests sat down. Of those gathered there, London, Liverpool, and Manchester had each contributed two. Four of these had thought proper to perform the perilous feat of ascending Snowdon amid snow and ice, and had happily escaped accident. When experienced mountaineers like Tyndall and Huxley did not esteem it prudent to ascend the same mountain in winter without the assistance of a guide, it could hardly be considered prudent for less experienced climbers to make the ascent at all, and something still less wise to dispense with guides as our friends appeared to have done. The London men had been up the day before, and had been favoured with clear weather. The Liverpool adventurers, who had just descended, had not been so fortunate. They had gone "sounding on a dim and perilous way," struggling through the mist and often waist-deep in snow. The evidence they produced of having accomplished their purpose was rather curious. The London men had drawn a cork on the summit, and the Liverpool men claimed to have brought this down with them. But one cork is very much like another, and, in the absence of identity, the proof seemed weak. The London men, however, stated that in drawing their cork they had broken the screw in it! The cork was, therefore, cut open, and sure enough there inside was the broken screw. On their way our climbers had' observed a phenomenon in the shape of frost-work, also described by Mr. Biden in the visitors' book of the hotel. They had seen frost-crystals forming themselves horizontally from the face of the rock in delicate branch work and right in the eye of the wind.

Harry Owen's inn was full of cheery life on that Christmas night. For ourselves we gathered round the fire with pipes and talk, but in the kitchen there was merriment of a more boisterous kind. For there the kissing bush was hung, and not in vain, as peal after peal of hearty laughter bore witness. Once we walked out into the night and strolled to the head of Gwynant. The air

was bitterly cold, and flying clouds obscured the light of the moon. Nothing could exceed the loneliness and weird wildness of the scene. On all sides the mountains lifted their ghostly forms, the whiteness of their snow fields increasing the depth of their rock shadows-Cwm Dwli and the mysterious recesses of Snowdon being as black as a wolf's throat. From the Llanberis Road the valley below seemed an abyss of impenetrable and unfathomable gloom. How comes it about that these piled up masses of inert, inanimate earth and rock should, under such conditions, make one's spirit shrink within one with awe, at least, if not with fear? Is the German right when he puts a soul in nature, and talks to us of the Earth-spirit? There they stand, the eldest-born of time, not unchanging, for

All but God is changing day by day,

but with change so slow that eighteen centuries of Christmas days have passed and they remain substantially the same as on the day when Christ was born in Bethlehem. Then, too, how "careless

of mankind" they seem as they stand "like gods together." Never were we so impressed with a sense of the pitiless, scornful indifference of Nature as in that awful mountain solitude. It was a

positive relief to turn back and see once more the welcome light streaming across the snow from window and doorway, and to hear again the light laughter of youths and maidens, and join our social party by the fire.

On the morrow our little company broke up-two went down by Capel Curig to Bettws, two crossed the Cribiau to Dolwydellan, while we made our way down the pass to the little station at Llanberis. The sky was cold and grey, and the summit of Snowdon was half revealed and half concealed in smouldering mist. A bitter wind was driving across from Moel Siabod, and high up among crags and precipices the snow was being blown like spray. The road down Llanberis was frozen so that it was possible to skate between the rock walls from end to end. From the edge of a precipice a mighty torrent had been arrested in its downward plunge, and hung there in icy stillness.

At the foot of the pass we were reminded of Sterne's "polyanthus blooming in December, sheltered by a friendly wall," for there in a garden nook was a beautiful hydrangia, its great lilac blossoms

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