Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chapter Eleven: ICELAND

"Good horse!  Good horse!" He kept saying.  "You will see, Axel, that there is no more sagacious animal than the Icelandic horse.  He is stopped by neither snow, nor storm, nor impassable roads, glaciers or anything.  He is courageous, sober, and surefooted.  He never makes a false step, never shies.  If there is river or fiord to cross (and we shall meet many) you will see him plunge in at once, just as if he were amphibious, and gain the opposite bank.  But we must never hurry him; we must let him have his way, and we shall get on at the rate of thirty miles a day.
-Jules Verne

Gracie's dream was white with snow blowing hard in straight lines.  The girl was blinded by it, but Grasida fra Grimsstodum saw through her thick forelock with the help of her frosted eyelashes.  The horse was made for this weather, and she had traveled in many storms; this one felt like trouble.  Already the snow was nearly up to her knees, and she had to lower her head to pull forward, straining with each step against the raging blizzard.  Her nostrils closed just enough to keep out the full force of the wind and hold some heat in.  The snow covered horse was tiring, but she sensed that they must reach home soon to survive. 

Her rider was the beautiful girl with the long blond hair who worked at the farm where Grasida was raised.  She recognized the girl by her lovely appearance, but what meant most were the actions and words that came out of her heart.  And so, the horse's heart was joined to hers.

They were headed home to their farm, well known for centuries in this part of northwest Iceland. Travelers had to plan ahead what outpost to go to if the weather turned bad.  This storm would turn more to the farm at Grimsstodum.

From the day she was born, Gracie joyously showed the world her beautiful rose-gray colored coat.  And, she sensed that life was serious business.  Her mother observed  her play each day, but the little rose-gray foal watched her mother carefully too.  Every message the  filly received from her mother said, "Play as you will, but play is not all there is."  Grasida's mother was wise. Her dignity was passed on to her daughter, and because of this, the beautiful girl loved the filly. When you have been loved very much, you carry it with you forever.

They pushed on in the deepening snow.  It was getting late, and the mare was hungry now too. She felt the girl tremble.  Was she cold?  She could not be crying!  She must know the horse would bring her home safely.

Suddenly everything within the horse told her to stop!  The girl pressed forward but Grasida refused to move.  Again she was strongly urged on, but she knew she could not obey.  There were times when the horse had to do the protecting.  Then the girl slid down from the saddle, and with careful inspection, she realized they were standing at the edge of a very steep cliff.

Falling upon the horse's neck the girl cried, "My dear girl, you have saved us.  I should have known you sensed where we were, even if I did not.  This is the cliff just north of home, we will soon be there together."  Removing her mittens, she slid her hands under the mane to the place where it is always warm, pressing her face to her the horse's neck.  "I love you, Grasida."

And so, Grasida's farm became the talk of all Iceland, because the story is still being told how the rose-gray mare saved the life of the beautiful girl.  It's a story a horse can dream about for the rest of her life.

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