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XX.

Now let the merriest tales be told,

And let the sweetest songs be sung,

That ever made the old heart young!
For now the lost has found a home;

And a lone hearth shall brighter burn,
As all the household joys return!

XXI.

O, pleasantly the harvest moon,

Between the shadow of the mows,

Looked on them through the great elm-boughs!
On Mabel's curls of golden hair,

On Esek's shaggy strength, it fell,
And the wind whispered, “It is well!”

J. G. WHITTIER.

LXXVI.-AN ALPINE STREAM.

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HERE is no feature in the Alpine scenery more

beautiful than the wells and streamlets which make every hill-side bright with their sunny sparkle and musical with their liquid murmurs; and there are no spots so rich in mountain plants as their banks. Trace them to their

. source, high up above the common things of the world, and they form a crown of joy to the bare granite rocks, diffusing around them beauty and verdure like stars brightening their own rays.

2. A fringe of deeply-green moss clusters round their edges, not creeping and leaning on the rock, but growing erect in thick tufts of fragile and slender stems. Clouds of golden confervæ, like the most delicate floss-silk, float in the open centre of clear water, the ripple of which gives motion and quick play of light and shade to their graceful filaments. The Alpine willow-herb bends its tiny head from the brink, to add its rosy reflection to the exquisite harmony of coloring in the depths; the rock-veronica forms an outer fringe of the deepest blue; while the little mosscampion enlivens the decomposing rocks in the vicinity with a continuous velvet carpeting of the brightest rose-red and the most brilliant green.

3. The indescribable loveliness of this glowing little flower strikes every one who sees it for the first time on the mountains speechless with admiration. Imagine cushions of tufted moss, with all the delicate grace of its foliage miraculously blossoming into myriads of flowers, rosier than the vermeil hue on beauty's cheek, or the cloudlet that lies nearest the setting sun, crowding upon each other so closely that the whole seems an intense floral blush,

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will have some faint idea of its marvelous beauty. We have nothing to compare with it among lowland flowers.

4. Following the course of the sparkling stream from this enchanted land, it conducts us down the slope of the hill to beds of the mountain-avens, decking the dry and stony knolls on either side with its downy procumbent leaves and large white flowers, more adapted, one would suppose, to the shelter of the woods than the bleak exposure of the mountain-side.

5. Farther down the declivity, where the stream, now increased in size, scooped out for itself a deep rocky channel, which it fills from side to side in its hours of flood and fury-hours when it is all too terrible to be approached by mortal footsteps—we find the mountain-sorrel hanging its clusters of kidney-shaped leaves and greenish rose-tipped blossoms-a grateful salad-from the beetling brows of the rocks; while, on the drier parts, we observe immense masses of the rose-root stonecrop growing where no other vegetation save lichens could exist.

6. This cactus-like plant is furnished with thick fleshy leaves, with few or no evaporating pores; which enables it to retain the moisture collected by its large, woody, penetrating root, and thus endure the long-continued drought of summer, when the stream below is shrunk down to the green feet of its slippery stones, and the little Naiad weeps her impoverished urn.

7. Following the stream lower down, we come to a more sheltered and fertile region of the mountain, where pool succeeds pool, clear and deep, in which you can see the fishes lying motionless, or darting away like arrows when your foot shakes the bank or your shadow falls upon the water.

8. There is now a wide level margin of grass on either side, as smooth as a shaven lawn; and meandering through it, little tributary rills trickle into the stream, their marshy channels edged with rare Alpine rushes, and filled with great spongy cushions of red and green mosses, enlivened by the white blossoms of the starry saxifrage.

9. Another variety of this flower grows everywhere around in large beds richly covered with yellow flowers, dotted with spots of a deeper orange. This lovely species descends to a lower altitude than any of its congeners, and may be called the golden fringe of the richly embroidered floral mantle with which Nature covers the nakedness of the higher hills. It blooms luxuriantly among a whole host of moorland plants, sufficient to engage the untiring interest of the botanist throughout the long summer day.

10. The curious sundew, a vegetable spider, lies in wait among the red elevated moss tufts, to catch the little black flies in the deadly embrace of its viscid leaves; the bog asphodel stands near, with its sword-shaped leaves and golden helmet, like a sentinel guarding the spot; the grass of Parnassus covers the moist greensward with the bright sparkling of its autumn snow; while the cotton-grass waves on every side its downy plumes in the faintest breeze.

11. Down from this flowery region the stream flows with augmented volume, bickering over the shingle with a gay, poppling sound, and leaving creamy wreaths of winking foam between the moss-grown stones that protrude from its bed. It laves the roots of the crimson heather and the palmy leaves of the lady-fern.

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12. The sunbeams gleam upon its open face with "messages from the heavens;" the rainbow arches its waterfalls; the panting lamb comes to cool its parched tongue in its limpid waters; the lean blue heron, with head and bill sunk on its breast, stands motionless in its shallows watching for minnows all the long dull afternoon, while the dusky ousel Aits from stone to stone in all the fearless play of its happy life.

13. Hurrying swiftly through the brown, heathy wastes that clothe the lower slopes, it lingers a while where the

trembling aspen and the twinkling birch and the rugged alder weave their leafy canopy over it, freckling its bustling waves with ever-varying scintillations of light and shade; pauses to water the crofter's meadow and cornfield, and to supply the wants of a cluster of rude moss-grown huts on its banks, which look as if they had grown naturally out of the soil; and then, through a beach of snow-white pebbles, it mingles its fretting waters in the blue profound peace of the loch.

14. Such is the bright and varied course of the Alpine stream, with its floral fringe; and from its fountain to its fall it is one continuous, many-linked chain of beauty-an epic of Nature, full of the richest images and the most suggestive poetry.

REV. Hugh MCMILLAN.

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