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the wood, the frequent caw, caw of the
she had also said that, before the reign of SUMMER was ended, it became silent, and that, finally, like the nightingale, and the Swallow, and other birds of passage, it took its departure for a warmer climate, at the coming of AUTUMN; and he asked his kind companion to conduct him to some spot where he would be most likely to obtain a sight of that shy bird.
So Summer, again taking his hand, which she had dropped to allow of his pausing to admire the many beautiful objects before and around him, led him some distance down the green slope, where, amid the tall grass, grew the Meadow-sweet, with its fragrant blossoms, like patches of foam strewn from the tops of the ocean waves. There, too, grew the little Milk-vetch, for it was a chalky soil, and the rich deep yellow of the Birds’-foot trefoil coloured the ground for yards and yards, close by where the burrowing Mole had dug out its gloomy habitation, and made a miniature mountain with the earth thrown out in the process. And down and down the gentle slope still they walked, brushing with their feet the large Ox-eye Daisies, the golden flowers and downy globes of the Dandelion, whose winged seeds were scattered by the breeze in every direction, starting, at one time, the dusky little Cricket; at another, the large green Grasshopper, that went vaulting nimbly away, to chirp and chirrup in a more secure place; now disturb. ing the droning Humble-bee from his feast on a stray Clover blossom, and now the Lizard, whose bright scales glittered for a moment in the sun, and then disappeared.
Having reached a hedge which ran across the foot of the hill, they turned and followed its course for awhile, to admire the creamy-looking Elder-blossoms, which, at places, entirely covered it; now the waxen clusters and dark glossy leaves of the Privet, and now the trailing Bryony, amid whose green wreaths, adorned with flowers of the same colour, hung the purple Nightshade, and twined and twisted the Honeysuckle and Convolvulus, or Bird weed, the latter white as the driven snow, and shaped like the mouth of a
trumpet, and the former with its mass of straggling tubes and threads, all pink, and gold, and crimson,
That is spreading seen,
Like a robe of glory,
Hard by forests hoary.
There, too, was the Wayfaring-tree, its young shoots covered with a cottonny down, which in time would turn to berries, red as coral; and there the delicate-tinted Bramble blossoms, and the Wild Briar, or Eglantine, which put out its rose-tinged cups to the sun, and sweetened the air around. And all the way along, beneath the hedge, the bank wãs covered with flowers of every hue, from the deep purple of the Wild Thyme to the bright blue of the little Speedwell, often, though erroneously, called the Forgetme-not; from the dusky red of the freckled Foxglove, to the bright pink of the Herb Robert, and faint lilac of the Scabious; and from these again, to the pure white of the bladder Campion; and there, too, was the Cistus, or Rock Rose, and many other plants with yellow blossoms, which I must not stop to mention, as the child could not, to examine them all, for his guide now led him through a gap in a hedge, and across a large field, where the grass, but recently cut, yet lay in ridges, or swathes, as it is called, except where the busy Hay-makers were at work, turning and tossing it in the sun to dry.
And through the fields they went, and passed out at a gate which opened upon the dusty road, on the opposite
side of which flowed the river, or stream, as it might more properly be called, that the child had seen from the hill. tup, as it wound its glittering length through the peaceful vale. There
the tall Bullrush with its brown velvety head, that makes such excellent arrows; and there, on its broad glossy leaves floated the pride of SUMMER, the stately Water Lily, like a pure ivory cup of the most graceful form and delicate workmanship, and the Yellow Iris, or FlagSedge, waved its bright yellow petals, and the ScorpionGrass, the true Forget-me-not, with many another aquatic, or water plant, flourished and blossomed there, and afforded shelter to the lovely Dragon.flies; and the sleek Water Rats, and the speckled Trout, and various other living creatures, that flew, and swam, and crept, and glided, above and beneath and amid these.
Truly it was a fair scene; and as the child stood looking upon it, lost in admiration, out of his nest, on the opposite bank, came a Kingfisher, and spreading forth to the sun his burnished wings, darted and skimmed along the water ; and then the little Sedge Warbler began to fit here and there amid the reeds, and to sing his sweet song of welcome to the glad season; and the Pied Longtail, that had come down to bathe in the clear stream, and to see if he could pick up an insect or two for his dinner, threw up the sparkling water, and was as full of tricks and antics as a bird well could be; so the child lingered, and lingered, and forgot all about the Cuckoo in the wood. And presently there was heard, lower down the stream, such a barking of dogs, and bleating of sheep, and a shouting and laughing of men and boys, that he must needs go and see what was the
metter; and he went to the spot from whence the sounds proceeded, and there, seated on the bank, beheld one of the most animated of the scenes which SUMMER affords, that is the washing of the sheep, preparatory to shearing. There, in the clear water, which flowed and rippled away over pebbles as bright and glistening as though they were made of pure gold, and all that is most beautiful and precious, stood the sturdy shepherds, who caught the frightened and struggling sheep, as they were driven and pushed from off the bank by the yelping dogs, and holloaing men, and laughing boys and girls, who from many a cottage round about had come forth into the bright sunshine to see and to share in the fun; they plunged and rolled them over and over, until their fleeces became as white, almost, as the driven snow, and then they were released, and went, shaking themselves and bleating piteously, to the opposite bank, where the breeze and the sunshine soon dried them again; and no doubt they felt all the more comfortable for their washing, as children always do; although, like the poor silly sheep, they frequently struggle and make a great noise while this process, so necessary to health, is going on. But we must now leave the stream, and follow the child in his pleasant wanderings with SUMMER:
Many a day, many a day,