as if some Uncle Kuhleborn had grasped it, while our Undine
by main strength tugged it from the beguiling wave.
But with what triumphant abundance of merriment were these preliminary disasters repaid, and how soon were they outgrown!
What time we sometimes made, when nobody happened to be near with a watch, and how successfully we tossed oars in saluting, when the world looked on from a picnic!
We had our applauses, too. To be sure, owing to the age and dimensions of the original barge, we could not command such a burst of enthusiasm as when the young men shot by us in their race-boat; but then, as one of the girls justly remarked, we remained longer in sight.
And many a day, since promotion to a swifter craft, have they rowed with patient stroke down the lovely lake, still attended by their guide, philosopher, and coxswain,—along banks where herds of young birch-trees overspread the sloping valley, and ran down beneath a blaze of sunshine to the rippling water,—or through the Narrows, where some breeze rocked the boat till trailing shawls and ribbons were water-soaked, and the bold little foam would even send a daring drop over the gunwale, to play at ocean,—or to Davis
's Cottage, where a whole parterre of lupines bloomed to the water's edge, as if relies of some ancient garden-bower of a forgotten race,—or to the dam by Lily Pond
, there to hunt among the stones for snakes' eggs, each empty shell cut crosswise, where the young creatures had made their first fierce bite into the universe outside,—or to some island, where white violets bloomed fragrant and lonely, separated by relentless breadths of water from their shore-born sisters, until mingled in their visitors' bouquets,—then up the lake homeward again at nightfall, the boat all decked with clematis, clethra, laurel, azalea, or water-lilies, while purple sunset clouds turned forth their golden linings for drapery above our heads, and then, unrolling, sent northward long, roseate wreaths to outstrip our loitering speed, and reach the floating bridge before us.
It is nightfall now. One by one the birds grow silent, and the soft dragon-flies, children of the day, are fluttering noiselessly to their rest beneath the under sides of drooping leaves.
From shadowy coves the evening air is thrusting forth a thin film of mist to spread a white floor above the waters.
The gathering darkness deepens the quiet of the lake, and bids us, at least for this time, to forsake it. ‘De soir fontaines, de matin montaignes
,’ says the old French proverb,—Morning for labor, evening for repose.