My out-door study
The noontide of the summer day is past, when all nature slumbers, and when the ancients feared to sing, lest the great god Pan should be awakened.
Soft changes, the gradual shifting of every shadow on every leaf, begin to show the waning hours.
Ineffectual thunder-storms have gathered and gone by, hopelessly defeated.
The floating bridge is trembling and resounding beneath the pressure of one heavy wagon, and the quiet fishermen change their places to avoid the tiny ripple that glides stealthily to their feet above the half-submerged planks.
Down the glimmering lake there are miles of silence and still waters and green shores, overhung with a multitudinous and scattered fleet of purple and golden clouds, now furling their idle sails and drifting away into the vast harbor of the South
Voices of birds, hushed first by noon and then by possibilities of tempest, cautiously begin once more, leading on the infinite melodies of the June afternoon.
As the freshened air invites them forth, so the smooth and stainless water summons us. ‘Put your hand upon the oar,’ says Charon
, in the old play, to Bacchus
, ‘and you shall hear the sweetest songs.’
The doors of the boat-house swing softly open, and the slender wherry, like a water-snake, steals silently in the wake of the dispersing clouds.
The woods are hazy, as if the warm sunbeams had melted in among the interstices of the foliage and spread a soft film throughout the whole.
The sky seems to reflect the water, and the water the sky; both are roseate with color, both are darkened with clouds, and between them both, as the boat recedes, the floating bridge hangs suspended, with its motionless fishermen and its moving team.
The wooded islands are poised upon the lake, each belted with a paler tint of softer wave.
The air seems fine and palpitating; the drop of an oar in a distant rowlock, the sound of a hammer on a dismantled boat, pass into some region of mist and shadows, and form a metronome for delicious dreams.
Every summer I launch my boat to seek some realm of enchantment beyond all the sordidness and sorrow of earth, and never yet did I fail to ripple, with my prow at least, the outskirts of those magic waters.
What spell has fame or wealth to enrich this mid-day blessedness with a joy the more?
Yonder barefoot boy, as he drifts silently in his punt beneath the drooping branches of yonder vine-clad bank, has a bliss which no Astor
can buy with money, no