Can you wake at three o’clock, children, and, while the birds are singing their very best songs, go down the road under the elms, across the little bridge, and through the hemlock grove at the right? It is a mile to walk, and you will not be there too early. The broad, smooth pond, that the brook has made for its holiday pleasure, is at our feet. At its bottom are the tangled roots; on the surface, among the flat, green leaves, float those buds that have been so long creeping towards the light.
One long, bright beam from the sun just rising smiles across the meadow, and touches the folded buds. They must, indeed, smile back in reply; so the thick sheath unfolds, and behold! the whitest, fairest lily-cup floats on the water, and its golden centre smiles back to the sun with many rays.
We watched only one, but perhaps none is willing to be latest in greeting the sun, and the pond is already half-covered with a snowy fleet of boats fit for the fairies,—boats under full sail for fairy-land, laden with beauty and fragrance.
And this is what the dark mud can send forth. This is one of Mother Nature’s hidden treasures. Perhaps she hides something as white and beautiful in all that seems dark and ugly, if only we will wait and watch for it, and be willing to come at the very dawn of day to look for it.
The lilies will stay with us, now that at last they are here, all through the rest of the summer, and even into the warm, sunny days of earliest October; but it will be only a few who stay so late as that And where have the others gone, meanwhile? You see there are no dead lilies floating, folded and decaying, among the pads.
The stem that found its way so surely to the upper world knows not less surely the way back again; and when its white blossom has opened for the last time, and then wrapped its green cloak about it again, not to be unfolded, the chambered stem coils backward, and carries it safely to the bottom, where its seed may ripen in the soft, dark mud, and prepare for another summer.
THE CARRYING TRADE
Who wants to engage in the carrying trade? Come, Lottie and Lula and Nina and Mary, all bring your maps, and we will play merchants, and see what is meant by the carrying trade.
Lottie shall have the bark “Rosette,” and sail from Boston to Calcutta; Lula, the steamer “North Star,” from New York for Liverpool; Mary shall take the “Sea-Gull,” from Philadelphia to San Francisco; and Nina is owner of the “Racer,” that makes voyages up the Mediterranean. Are we all ready for our little game?
Lottie begins, and she must find out what Boston has to send to Calcutta. Don’t send indigo or saltpetre or gunny-bags or ginger; for, even should you have these articles to spare, Calcutta has an abundance at home, and you must discover something that she needs, but does not possess. “Ice,” says Lottie. “Yes, that is just the thing, because Calcutta has a hot climate, and does not make her own ice: so load the ‘Rosette’ with great blocks well packed, and start at once, for your voyage is long.”