« السابقةمتابعة »
the long grass in the meadows, all these faint cries of the little birds nestling close together in the chilly mornings and evenings, were for sorrow that she was going to leave them. But, far from making her vain, she only looked sorrowful, and wished that she could stay ; and all night long she wept till the grass and the rocks and the ground were covered with her tears, so that, when the old rabbit looked out at the house door early in the morning, she said to the little ones, who were lying in bed telling stories, “Children, you need n't get up yet, but wait till the sun is higher ; for either it has rained in the night or there has been an astonishing dew-fall. Really, I must just skip over to Neighbor White-Nose, and ask her opinion; and mind you don't stir out till I come home !” So off she skipped; and you may be sure that, the minute their good little mother was gone, those two mischievous ones in the bed began such capers! They turned heels over head, buried one another in the leaves their bed was made of, and played at leap-frog, until they were out of breath ; and their mother, coming home softly, caught them, boxed their ears, and sent them out to pick up their breakfast.
Mother Rabbit had met her neighbor White-Nose in the wood, and, as the two scampered home together over the dead leaves, she learned that, while she was sleeping soundly early in the morning, all the little wood-people had met together at the big rock in the middle of the forest; and that the Owl had made a speech to them, - and a very wise speech too,— all about the Summer's going; and that he had advised every one to bring something the next day to the wood, - something, no matter what, only let each one bring what he could, as a parting gift to their dear friend the Summer, whom many of them might never see again.
Among the little wood-people sadness cannot last long; and after a few tears and sighs the sky came blue again, the leaves rustled cheerfully in the brisk morning air, loud and clear sang the birds, and every one thought cheerfully and busily on what he should give the Summer as his parting gift. So tenderly did they love her that every one wished to give her the prettiest gift he could find, and through the whole of that day the wood was noisy enough with their scampering to and fro, – the older ones putting their heads together to contrive something handsome and surprising for their friend; and all the younger people talking together by the hour, first proposing this thing, then that, and at last giving it up, and running to father and mother to help them in their trouble. Such a noisy wood as it was that morning!
But all day long poor Dandelion sat by the edge of the wood, sad and alone, thinking and thinking what she could give, but in vain! Of all the little wood-people there was none who loved the dear Summer more than she, none who was sorrier that she must go ; and yet here she must sit, dusty and forlorn, while her best friend passed her by; and, while everybody else had a pretty present to lay at her feet, she had nothing, - no, not the least thing in the world. So she sat quite down-hearted, hearing the bustle and noise about her, and the sly whispers and merry laughter; and at last, worst of all, an envious thought stole into her soul as she heard a little wren in the sumach-bush behind her trying over and over the merry song he was to sing as his gift to the Summer on the morrow.
“ Every one has something,” said poor, dusty Dandelion, “even this little brown wren! O, if I could only give her the least thing in the world ! ”
And now it was night, and everywhere in the wood there was silence, except when, now and then, a light-headed breeze that had no talent for sleeping, and consequently liked to keep everybody else awake, came sauntering along, touching here a tree, and there a bush or rock covered with moss and trailing vines, causing them to stir uneasily in their sleep, and dream that it was morning, and so time to get up and make ready for the coming of their friend the Summer !
All night the sky was dark blue overhead, and in the middle stood the moon like a silver bee-hive, while all about her swarmed the stars in and out among the clouds like golden bees. And the poor tired little Dandelion, who could not sleep for thinking, said to herself, “O, if I could only catch one of those pretty bees, and keep him till morning, what a present that would make ! ”
But the golden bees kept up in the sky far away, far away! and, though she watched nearly all night, never one flew down to the earth, although once or twice the poor Dandelion thought her watching was to be rewarded, for a star would seem to start from its place and sail down across the sky; but just as Dandelion reached out her hands, hoping to catch it, it would disappear as if it had melted away. At last, toward morning, tired out, she fell sound asleep, and had a dream.
She dreamed that one of the stars came sailing slowly down, just as a bee would, and steered straight to where she lay in the grass, and as it came nearer she saw that it was no bee, but a large golden Dandelion-flower, brighter and yellower than she had ever brought forth ; and down it came, nearer, nearer, and landed safely, all bright and sparkling, directly in the middle of her little circle of dry, dusty leaves! And with that Dandelion woke up, and O how sorry she was to find it only a dream!
At last the morning came, and the sun shone through the mist on the mountains like a great red rose; and little by little the wood began to stir with life, and presently it was as noisy as yesterday. In the tallest trees sat the crows, dressed in span-new clothes, shining and dapper ; for one of them was to make a speech that day, bidding the Summer“ good by," — and when one has to speak in public he must be well dressed, mind you, especially if he have as little to say as the crow had. Then there were the spiders. · How fine they had made the grass look ! for they had covered it all over with a delicate net, and the dew had fallen, and every thread was strung with the smallest crystal beads, that sparkled like so many diamonds ! The little brook came rushing by, whirling a small round ball of foam, which it said was a fine frosted cake for the dear Summer; so to work it went, spinning it round and round to make it as large and handsome as possible.
All day the birds practised their songs, trilling and quavering ; the brown bees flew about busily, getting ready their best honey-comb; the striped squirrels scampered hither and thither, like small streaks of red lightning, picking up the best nuts that the trees could throw down ; the yellow butterflies, with here and there a red one, gathered together from far and near to
arrange a dance in honor of their friend. And poor Dandelion saw all this merry bustle, and grew sadder and sadder every minute of the day.
Then there came into her mind, all at once, a bright thought, and she said: “If I could only have one of my little yellow flowers to give the Summer, that would be something, and perhaps she might take it kindly, seeing I have nothing else to give. But, o dear me ! it is so late in the year, I am afraid I can hardly hope to have a flower, certainly not a fine full one, such as I have in May!” Then she thought of her dream, and suddenly it seemed to her as if she might yet have a flower, if only she thought about it hard enough, and wished it in good earnest; and with that there came into her soul a warm thought of love for the Summer, and a yearning to tell her how much she loved her; and, as she thought, up from the middle of the nest of half-dried dusty leaves there pushed itself a fresh green stem, and at the top a small plume-like bud, just as in the old time ! and as the bright sunshine streamed down upon it through the half-bare trees, Dandelion felt that the bud became a flower, and her poor little heart was happy.
In the afternoon came a few loitering snow-flakes, and told the wood-people that the Summer was on her way. Presently there was a sound as of harps and flutes, which, in fact, was a concert got up by two or three young orphan northwest winds who had been adopted by the Winter to amuse him, and run errands for him, while he was getting up snow-storms and gales, but who had nothing better to do until he came than to be civil to the lady Summer. And when the wood-people heard this sad music, which, in truth, was more like children's crying than anything else, they ran out to meet their friend, and each one, with a smile in one eye and a tear in the other, gave her his gift. The trees, as she passed, strewed her way with their many-colored leaves — green, yellow, purple, and scarlet — for a splendid carpet; the squirrel brought his nuts; the humming-bees their honey; before her danced the gay butterflies ; the wren shook out his song in the sumach-bush, and, when he ended, all the birds joined in chorus.
On the top of the tallest tree stood Mr. Crow, making his speech with flourish and gesture, and thinking himself a very great personage indeed. But all you could hear was nothing but the same old “ Caw, çaw!” that he had said over and over for a hundred years.
Then the Summer came to where poor Dandelion waited for her, sad and alone, and as she came her heart beat and shook the flower that glimmered Jike a star in the warm twilight of the dusky wood, and the sky burst forth into crimson and gold, as if it were Autumn among the clouds as in the wood; and while the rosy flame touched the Summer's cheek, she looked down, and spied the trembling yellow flower, and instantly a tear sprang to her eye as, stooping over it. she cried : “O, all the other gifts were sweet and dear to me, for love is always so ; but this is the sweetest gift of all, for it minds me of the days when I was young !”
So the Summer passed away in smiles and tears, the bright sky faded, and the music died on the dying western wind. And who slept and dreamed she was a happy heavenly star that night, but poor little dusty Dandelion !