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Adam was ashamed of his conceit; and his father, seeing his mortification, kindly avoided saying more on the subject. But his punishment was increased when he saw how much his mother and sisters enjoyed the beautiful radishes drawn from his father's bed, and thought how he had curtailed their store by disobeying his father's instructions.
Their garden was now well cropped; and their chief employment was to watch its development, and give the plants every little aid in their power. The early cauliflowers, which had been left under the hand-glasses, were now growing beautifully. They were earthed up, and the hand-glasses raised on bricks, so as to give them room to grow. The cucumber-frames were now opened in the middle of the day to inure the plants to the open air. The hoe was kept constantly going, and a careful eye was kept on the fruit trees to remove any caterpillars which made their appearance on them. One morning, while occupied in sticking the early peas, they heard the voice of the cuckoo for the first time. This well-known and welcome voice reminded Mr. Stock of Wordsworth's beautiful and simple poem, which he repeated to Adam, recommending him to learn it:
“O, blithe new comer! I have heard,
I hear thee, and rejoice ;
Or but a wandering voice ?
“ While I am lying on the grass,
Thy loud note smites my ear;
At once far off and near!
“ The same which in my schoolboy days
I listened to; that cry
In bush, and tree, and sky.
" And I can listen to thee yet;
Can lie upon the plain,
That golden time again.”
Adam thought it very pretty; all except the last part, which he did not understand. His father explained to him, that the poet meant that he could lie on the grass and listen to the bird until he fancied himself a thoughtless, careless, and merry schoolboy again, and he calls his schoolboy days the “golden time;" “And if you live to be a man, Adam,” said he, “ you will think so too. I used to think, when I was a little boy, how happy I should be if I were à man; and now that I am a man, I would give all I am worth, except you and your mother and sisters, to be a boy again. But I have some business in the village; go and ask your mamma and sisters if they will join us, and we will take a walk in the fields, if they can go with us." In a few minutes the whole party were ready. On the way, Mr. Stock entertained the party with anecdotes of the habits and instincts of the birds they saw. How the swallow traversed hundreds of miles to visit us, build its little house, rear its young, and again retraced its path on the approach of winter! How the wryneck, which they detected from its loud cry of “ Week: week!” many times repeated, as it perched on a gate-post, would hiss at you like a nest of snakes if you approached their nest, frightening many a cowardly boy who would have robbed it, but for the fear inspired by this sound. On their way home they also observed the redstart, with its trembling tail, darting from bough to bough, and many other interesting objects, which Mr. Stock told them they would find described in “White's Natural History of Selborne," on their return home.
The month was now nearly at its close, and Adam and his father had nearly finished work for the day, having just well watered the flower beds, when Adam was addressed by his father. “Now, Adam,” said he, “this month we have a beautiful show of flowers in the garden, and I wish you to tell me the names of those that please you most.” “There is the tulip, papa,” said Adam; “it is no great favourite of mine, for it is stiff and formal, and has no scent, but the colours are very beautiful and gay; then there are the auriculas, polyanthuses, and stocks, and wallflowers, daffodils, daisies, jonquils, and the ranunculuses, which are very beautiful this year; the peonies, scarlet lychens, hepaticas, irises, and the modest-looking lilies of the valley, and many more which I cannot mention; but I think many of the wild flowers we saw in the hedge-rows in our walk yesterday, are quite as beautiful as any of these.” “You are quite right, Adam,” said his father; "and they lose some of the greatest enjoyments of life, whose appreciation of nature is confined to the artificial productions of the garden.” This conversation took place while Mr. Stock was thinning the apricot trees; and Adam occupied himself in looking over the apple trees for caterpillars: their last employment in the sprightly month of April.
“Now the bright morning star, day's harbinger,
By four o'clock next morning, Mr. Stock had roused all the sleepers in his house. “Up! up!” cried he, “you slug-abeds! The lark is awake, and the bee is stirring; all but you are ready to meet the rising sun. The flowers are all getting ready to open their dewy buds, and the morning air is breathing softly on them; and May-Day has come in after the old fashion, cheerfully and bright: so we will keep it after the old fashion. Come, up with you! we shall not begin it properly unless we see the sun rise. Adam, you lazy dog! let me catch you in bed five minutes hence, and I will give you such a cold pig as shall make you remember May morning!” Who could sleep after this ? so in about a quarter of an hour the whole family were
“Brushing with hasty steps the dew away,
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn."
All noticed how grave everything appeared; there was such a stillness, as if the birds and beasts were waiting in fear lest the sun should not rise again. Indeed, I have often thought that the first breaking of dawn was very awful — the deep stillness, the solemn colour, and the cautious unfolding of light! There is no solemnity like the first dawning of morn:
“ Most old, and mild, and awful, and unbroken;
Which tells a tale of peace beyond whate'er was spoken.”
When they had arrived at the rising ground behind the house, they looked over a beautiful tract of country, rich in verdure, with the sea beyond it: the sun was slowly risinga sheet of living gold; while the clouds around were drawn up from it like long handfuls of wool, dyed rose colour, and the edges dipped in gold. “Who can wonder," said Mr. Stock, " that some people should worship the sun as their god, when we behold what a grand object it is, both in its rising and setting ? If the sun were to rise no more, everything that has life would die, rot, and become dust. Therefore, we cannot wonder, I say, that some people look upon the sun as their god.”
They now continued their walk into some pretty winding lanes, passing some cottages, the children of which were all up and out Maying. Some were making garlands, hanging them across the lane, before the door. Adam and his sisters wished to make a garland too, and set about collecting wild flowers for that purpose, putting them into their handkerchiefs as they gathered them. While thus occupied, Mr. Stock explained to them that the custom of gathering flowers and making garlands on May-Day, had been continued from the time of the Romans, who made it a religious observance. After drinking some milk at a neighbour's farm-yard, they returned to breakfast; and having despatched their meal in haste, they set about making their garland, which, with mamma's assistance, was soon suspended between the trees on the lawn. A fiddler had been engaged from a neighbouring town, and,