Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

or other pleases. Women without a single good feature are often good-looking in New Seville because of an indescribable style or manner. They catch the charm of the good-looking by living among them, so that if any young lady desires to acquire the art of attraction she has only to take train and join them. Delighted with our protectorate of Paphos, Venus has lately decided to reside on these shores. Every morning the girls' schools go for their constitutional walks; there seem no end of these schools—the place has a garrison of girls, and the same thing is noticeable in their ranks. Too young to have developed actual loveliness, some in each band distinctly promise future success. After long residence the people become accustomed to good looks, and do not see anything especial around them, but on going away for a few days soon miss these pleasant faces.

In reconstructing Brighton station, one thing was omitteda balcony from which to view the arrival and departure of the trains in summer and autumn. The scene is as lively and interesting as the stage when a good play is proceeding. So many happy expectant faces, often very beautiful; such a mingling of colours, and succession of different figures; now a brunette, now golden hair : it is a stage, only it is real. The bustle, which is not the careworn anxious haste of business; the rushing to and fro; the greetings of friends ; the smiles; the shifting of the groups, some coming, and some going—plump and rosy,—it is really charming. One has a fancy dog, another a bright-bound novel ; very many have cavaliers; and look at the piles of luggage ! What dresses, what changes and elegance concealed therein !-conjurors' trunks out of which wonders will spring. Can anything look jollier than a cab overgrown with luggage, like huge barnacles, just starting away with its freight ? One can imagine such a fund of enjoyment on its way in that cab. This happy throng seems to express something that delights the heart. I often used to walk up to the station just to see it, and left feeling better.

THE PINE WOOD.

THERE was a humming in the tops of the young pines as if a swarm of bees were busy at the green cones. They were not visible through the thick needles, and on listening longer it seemed as if the sound was not exactly the note of the bee—a slightly different pitch, and the hum was different, while bees have a habit of working close together. Where there is one bee there are usually five or six, and the hum is that of a group; here there only appeared one or two insects to a pine. Nor was the buzz like that of the humblebee, for every now and then one came along low down, flying between the stems, and his note was much deeper. By-and-by, crossing to the edge of the plantation, where the boughs could be examined, being within reach, I found it was wasps. A yellow wasp wandered over the blue-green needles till he found a pair with a drop of liquid like dew between them. There he fastened himself and sucked at it; you could see the drop gradually drying up till it was gone. The largest of these drops were generally between two needles--those of the Scotch fir or pine grow in pairs—but there were smaller drops on the outside of other needles. In searching for this exnding turpentine the wasps filled the whole plantation with the sound of their wings. There must have been many thousands of them. They caused no inconvenience to any one walking in the copse, because they were high overhead.

Watching these wasps I found two cocoons of pale yellow silk on a branch of larch, and by them a green spider. He was quite green-two shades, lightest on the back, but little lighter than the green larch bough. An ant had climbed up a pine and over to the extreme end of a bough; she seemed slow and stupefied in her motions, as if she had drunken of the turpentine and . had lost her intelligence. The soft cones of the larch could be easily cut down the centre with a penknife, showing the structure of the cone and the seeds inside each scale. It is for these seeds that birds frequent the fir copses, shearing off the scales with their beaks. One larch cone had still the tuft at the top—a pineapple in miniature. The loudest sound in the wood was the humming in the trees; there was no wind, no sunshine; a summer day, still and shadowy, under large clouds high up. To this low humming the sense of hearing soon became accustomed, and it served but to render the silence deeper. In time, as I sat waiting and listening, there came the faintest far-off song of a bird away in the trees; the merest thin upstroke of sound, slight in structure, the echo of the strong spring singing. This was the summer repetition, dying away. A willow-wren still remembered his love, and whispered about it to the silent fir tops, as in after days we turn over the pages ofletters, withered as leaves, and sigh. So gentle, so

low, so tender a song the willow-wren sang that it could scarce be known as the voice of a bird, but was like that of some yet more delicate creature with the heart of a woman.

A butterfly with folded wings clung to a stalk of grass; upon the under side of his wing thus exposed there were buff spots, and dark dots and streaks drawn on the finest ground of pearl-grey, through which there came a tint of blue; there was a blue, too, shut up between the wings, visible at the edges. The spots, and dots, and streaks were not exactly the same on each wing; at first sight they appeared similar, but, on comparing one with the other, differ ences could be traced. The pattern was not mechanical; it was hand-painted by Nature, and the painter's eye and fingers varied in their work.

How fond Nature is of spot-markings!—the wings of butterflies, the feathers of birds, the surface of eggs, the leaves and petals of plants are constantly spotted ; so, too, fish-as trout. From the wing of the butterfly I looked involuntarily at the foxglove I had just gathered ; inside, the bells were thickly spotted-dots and dustings that might have been transferred to a butterfly's wing. The spotted meadow-orchis; the brown dots on the cowslips; brown, black, greenish, reddish dots and spots and dustings on the eggs of the finches, the whitethroats, and so many others--some of the spots seem as if they had been splashed on and had run into short streaks, some mottled, some gathered together at the end; all spots, dots, dustings of minute specks, mottlings, and irregular markings. The histories, the stories, the library of knowledge

« AnteriorContinuar »