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[145] Picket life was of course the place to feel the charm of natural beauty on the Sea Islands. We had a world of profuse and tangled vegetation around us, such as would have been a dream of delight to me, but for the constant sense of responsibility and care which came between. Amid this preoccupation, Nature seemed but a mirage, and not the close and intimate associate I had before known. I pressed no flowers, collected no insects or birds' eggs, made no notes on natural objects, reversing in these respects all previous habits. Yet now, in the retrospect, there seems to have been infused into me through every pore the voluptuous charm of the season and the place; and the slightest corresponding sound or odor now calls back the memory of those delicious days. Being afterwards on picket at almost every season, I tasted the sensations of all; and though I hardly then thought of such a result, the associations of beauty will remain forever.

In February, for instance,--though this was during a later period of picket service,--the woods were usually draped with that “net of shining haze” which marks our Northern May; and the house was embowered in wild plum-blossoms, small, white, profuse, and tenanted by murmuring bees. There were peach-blossoms, too, and the yellow jasmine was opening its multitudinous buds, climbing over tall trees, and waving from bough to bough. There were fresh young ferns and white bloodroot in the edges of woods, matched by snowdrops in the garden, beneath budded myrtle and Petisporum. In this wilderness the birds were busy; the two main songsters being the mocking-bird and the cardinal-grosbeak, which monopolized all the parts of our more varied Northern orchestra save the tender and liquid notes, which in

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