treasures of the lake in their morning hour, we camped overnight on a little island, which one tall tree almost covers with its branches, while a dense undergrowth of young chestnuts and birches fills all the intervening space, touching the water all around the circular, shelving shore.
Yesterday was hot, but the night was cool, and we kindled a gypsy fire of twigs, less for warmth than for society.
The first gleam made the dark, lonely islet into a cheering home, turned the protecting tree to a starlit roof, and the chestnut-sprays to illuminated walls.
To us, lying beneath their shelter, every fresh flickering of the fire kindled the leaves into brightness and banished into dark interstices the lake and sky; then the fire died into embers, the leaves faded into solid darkness in their turn, and water and heavens showed light and close and near, until fresh twigs caught fire and the blaze came up again.
Rising to look forth at intervals, during the peaceful hours,—for it is the worst feature of a night out-doors, that sleeping seems such a waste of time,—we watched the hilly and wooded shores of the lake sink into gloom and glimmer into dawn again, amid the low plash of waters and the noises of the night.
Precisely at half-past.
three, a song-sparrow above our heads gave one liquid trill, so inexpressibly sudden and delicious, that it seemed to set to music every atom of freshness and fragrance that Nature held; then the spell was broken, and the whole shore and lake were vocal with song.
Joining in this jubilee of morning, we were early in motion; bathing and breakfast, though they seemed indisputably in accordance with the instincts of the Universe, yet did not detain us long, and we were promptly on our way to Lily Pond
Will the reader join us?
It is one of those summer days when a veil of mist gradually burns away before the intense sunshine, and the sultry morning only plays at coolness, and that with its earliest visitors alone.
But we are before the sunlight, though not before the sunrise, and can watch the pretty game of alternating mist and shine.
Stray gleams of glory lend their trailing magnificence to the tops of chestnut-trees, floating vapors raise the outlines of the hills and make mystery of the wooded islands, and, as we glide through the placid water, we can sing, with the Chorus in the ‘Ion
’ of Euripides
, ‘O immense and brilliant air, resound with our cries of joy!’
Almost every town has its Lily Pond
, dear to boys and maidens, and partially equalizing, by its annual delights, the presence or absence of other geographical advantages.
Ours is accessible from the larger lake only by taking the skiff over a narrow embankment, which protects our fairy-land by its presence, and eight distant factories by its dam. Once beyond it, we are in a realm of dark Lethean water, utterly unlike the sunny depths of the main lake.
Hither the water-lilies have retreated, to a domain of their own. In the bosom of these shallow waves.
there stand hundreds