Page images
PDF
EPUB

sands. I will not tell you where, for I want to keep that spot to myself.

I have also found the yellow oxalis, butter-and-eggs, dandelions, oxeyed daisies, cardinal flowers, water-cresses, looking for all the world like sweet alyssum, evening primroses, and others, and yesterday I was surprised to find the witch hazel in full bloom, the yellow leaves still mostly clinging to the stems, and last year's seed-vessels only turning brown. This is one of our most plentiful shrubs, and I am fond of its quaint irregularity. The hop hornbeam is another of our favourites among the shrubs or small trees, and these are found in company. A less satisfactory neighbour is the venomous swamp sumach, lovely but treacherous. Like the fringed gentians, and fishing, it is not to be found just here, but is all around us, and those who, like myself, are susceptible to its malignant power, must exercise caution in their interviews with it.

The golden-rods are past their prime, but this cannot be said of the asters, unless their mellow autumn is richer than their summer. The roadsides in some places are purple and in others white with them.

The chicken grapes hanging upon hedges

recall the spring fragrance of the blossoming vines, which vie with the ground-nut (Apios) of later summer in making scented aisles of our pathways. The berries of the bitter-sweet hang in golden clusters, but have not yet opened their hearts to the breeze, and the red hips of the wild roses promise to be with us all winter. Under the trees the berries of the mitchella are scattered thickly on the carpet formed by the round green leaves on the vines.

Our sounds are the sounds of the late harvest, and this is nearly over. The ripe corn is stacked in the fields, revealing golden pumpkins galore, with certainty of unending pies, while here and there a blossom shows that the vigour has not yet all gone out of the vines. The birds are mostly quiet, a catbird, with its noisy note, doing most to attract my attention during my morning walk. We shall see and hear more of the birds, but the cheery songs will only come to us again with the opening spring.

From my window I can hear the katydid's iteration all day long, - that terrible insistence, with the counter denial, which make you feel so sure that, whatever it was that was done or was not done in the

[ocr errors]

long, long past, we never shall know the truth of the story while the world endures.

The morning was bright and sunny, and the hills and fields were all aglow. The humming wires along my way sent my memory back over more than forty years to the time when the telegraph, then a comparatively new contrivance, was built along the high road through my father's little farm in Pennsylvania. We youngsters listened to the messages going through, as we thought, and wondered that the birds could rest upon the wires with impunity. Perhaps this morning the wires were bringing to this peaceful spot some message of the desolation which has just been wrought in the distant South. But it is not always so peaceful even here. A month ago a great gale passed through and shattered some of our noble trees, and to-day the barometer has been falling, the afternoon has been overcast, and we expect to take our share in the common lot.

OCTOBER 6, 1893.

II.

THE night brought us only light and refreshing showers, though these were accompanied by the ripening leaves, which fell thick and fast, and strewed the ground this morning with a carpet of red and gold. But the sun came out between the clouds with his face washed clean for the holiday, and brought back with him the warmth of summer. As I passed down the village street I had to dodge the horse-chestnuts, which have become ripe enough to fall, and, bursting their burrs as they reach the path, scatter shell and nut on either side.

(And apropos, as I was writing this I became conscious of a bombardment in my room at intervals, the cause of which I found in something of the same nature. Yesterday I placed a flowering branch of witch hazel above my piano. The dry air of the room has rapidly matured the last year's fruit, and the shells opening from time to time with a snap, send the seed scurrying across the room to find an un

[ocr errors]

congenial resting place upon the table or floor.)

This has been a stirring and eventful week with us. Thursday was the opening day at the school, and the girls have been flocking back by ones and twos and threes and dozens, with trunks and bags and bundles, and the old-time lumbering stage and baggage wagons have been kept employed to the extent of their capacity. And not only the new girls, and those not new are here, but the ancients, the old timers, the girls of the past, who come only on account of old attractions and to meet each other and to see the new girls, are here in force, and have taken possession of the pleasant inn, and make its low-studded rooms resound with their busy chatter.

Beauty may indeed be only skin deep, but it warms the cockles of an old man's heart to see the lovely faces, and witness the fulness of life and boundless enthusiasm of these young maids. It may be confessed that it has a chastening effect upon him of the more muscular sex to see how absolutely independent of any of his kind are all of this body of Amazons. As he takes his accustomed course along the street he shrinks within himself, and mani

« PreviousContinue »