Brooks And Brook Basins
( Originally Published 1891 )
THE RAINDROPS SET OUT ON THEIR JOURNEY.
"0 tell me, pretty brooklet !
"My birthplace was the mountain,
HAVE you heard the babbling brooklet tell the. story of its travels ?
There it comes ! tripping down the hillside, like a band of fairies dressed in golden sunbeams.
Hear it tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, as it ripples o'er the pebbles. See the sunlight play on its silvery sheets, and dance in the flying spray.
Watch the shining bubbles spring up in each tiny water-break to catch the rainbow colors, then burst and fling their beauty playfully into the air.
Flakes of foam, like baby swans, chase around each little bend, and whirl in merry eddies.
Like a happy child at play, the brooklet hides its dimpled cheek behind the green bank, and then 'comes skipping lightly forth again. Now it glides into the meadow, where graceful willows bend above it, and snow-white clouds beneath its surface seem to float in fairyland.
On its banks, the wild-flowers stoop their pretty heads, and nod and sway. They love to listen to its noisy prattle. Even the timid rabbit, with one soft white foot uplifted, stops and pricks up its long ears, to hear the brooklet tell the story of its travels.
Hark ! it is just beginning :
" Far away in the sunset gardens, where bright flowers cluster at eventide, there dwells a beautiful maiden, named Aurora, the goddess of Dawn.
" Just before the break of day, she rises from her downy couch and sets the morning star in her forehead, above a cloudy crown. Over her ruddy shoulders she spreads a rich mantle tinged with purple, and soars away on graceful wings that bear the hues and tints of morning.
" One touch, in passing, puts out the starry lights.
" Her gently swaying pinions fan away the cold, gray mists, as with rosy fingers she paints the sleeping hilltops, tinting them with dawning light. The sweet-voiced birds awake, and grateful flowers lift up their dewy heads to greet her as she passes.
"Open-wide she swings the gates of morning, and the flaming chariot of the sun rolls in to run its course across the arching sky. Then swift Aurora westward wings her way to welcome home the Prince of Light when his daily task is ended.
"One morning, long ago, a band of little rain-drops, far away in the deep sea, were watching the rosy Dawn greet the coming Day.
" The noble Prince was just rising from his bed of roses. A thousand golden spear-points were thrusting aside the dark curtain of night. A thousand silver arrows were shooting across the sky. Old Ocean lay fast asleep.
"Soon a dazzling light poured out over the water, tipping each tiny ripple with gold. The merry waves awoke, and danced and sang :
"'Children are we
"'Now for a race!' shouted the passing sun-beams to our raindrop band.
" Away we went ! Up, up, on our light vapor-wings. Up, up, over the tall masts of the ship. Up, up, into the bright blue sky.
" Far below, we could see the old white sea-gulls, chasing their own shadows among the clear blue waves.
" The air became cooler, so we put on our pretty white cloud-jackets. What a host we were ! Above, below, on every side, the air was filled with water-dust. It made a cloud that cast a long, wide shadow over the sea.
" Hour after hour we floated, till the Prince of Light sank to rest on a pillow of fleecy clouds. Over him the Twilight wove a beautiful coverlet with rainbow threads. Then her rosy fingers gently swung the gates of evening, and left us alone in the darkness.
" Soon a gentle breeze came tripping over the sea. Pretty ripples sprang up to greet it. Then a timid little star peeped forth to see if day had gone. Another and another followed, till their bright eyes were blinking all over the sky.
"The twilight hours, like birds, flew by
" 0, how beautiful was the night !
" Low in the west, the, crescent moon rocked in the deep grottos of the silver-lined clouds. Under its mellow light, the drowsy waves put on their sparkling nightcaps, and went sailing off to bed.
" Above us, the Milky Way, pale rainbow of night, spanned the dark-blue sky, with its millions of starry drops, like a bridge of silver foam among its clusters of golden islands.
" There, too, o'erspread the countless stars, as if the sun, like a flaming rocket, had burst and showered its flickering sparks over the sleeping earth.
" Now and then, bright trailing meteors flew far overhead, like starry birds-of-passage, — flashed into sight for an instant, and then were gone,—whither ?
" Here and there, weird shadows seemed to flit like dark-winged birds across the sea, to remind us that night was hovering near.
" What a merry train they were — the twinkling stars !
" Out of the east came beautiful Vega, brightest of all the evening host. Near it floated the graceful Swan, among the foamy flakes that drift a down the Milky Way.
" Then we heard the night Wind humming a sweet lullaby, telling how —
"' Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night,
" The old Moon laughed and sung a song,
" All night long their nets they threw
""Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
" As the sweet song died away, kind Night showered her drowsy drops over our weary band ; and, swinging in the cradle of the gentle winds, we fell asleep.
" Then we dreamed we were captives of the golden Sunbeams who carried us away in little white-winged boats to a far-off land, and set us at work in cold, dark cells. One day we ran away. But just as we were gliding along a beautiful pathway, paved with golden sands, and bordered with bright flowers, we awoke to find ourselves still floating above the dark-blue ocean.
"We saw the slow tides go and come,
"The warm sun soon cleared away the pale mist, and just as far as our little cloud-eyes could reach, we saw broad fields and tall groves.
" Pretty white cottages nestled among the low hills. We heard the hum of the old mill-wheel, and the voices of happy children at play.
But the fields were brown and bare. Cold Winter had just fled. We could still see his white footprints in the forest.
"' Here is work for all ! ' rustled the silver water-dust, as it danced with the merry sunbeams. ' The timid rabbit and sportive squirrels have watched the frosty autumn crawl slowly along, wrap itself in a warm cocoon of wintry snow, from which the spring, like a beautiful butterfly, will soon burst forth, fluttering in bright blossoms.
"The gardens will then be filled with seeds. We must help them spring up and grow. We will cover the fields with violets, and send golden grain to wave in the meadows. We will hang rosy apples in the orchards, and purple grapes in the vineyards. How happy everybody will be when all nature wakes from its long quiet sleep ! '
Just then cold Winter turned and sent its icy breath whistling over the hilltops. How we. shivered and huddled together ! The warm sun-beams fled away in fright. Then, folding our little vapor-wings, we became drops of water, and began to patter down on the steep hillsides.
"The pastures lie baked, and the furrow is bare,
" How glad the old pines were to see us !
" The early birds sang their sweetest songs. You should have heard them chirp and twitter among the branches.
"Merrily the little leopard frogs trilled, ' Pr-r-r, pr-r-r, spring is here, pr-r-r, pr-r-r ! '
"And the old ones croaked their deep bass, Tb-b-b, tb-b-b, winter is gone, tb-b-b, tb-b-b ! '
"Pretty pink earthworms came crawling from their narrow cells to find out what all this fuss was about. Even the old brindle cow stood out in the rain, and blinked and blinked, for now the springs would all flow pure sweet water again.
"'What a stir it made just because the cold north-wind that morning scared the warm sun-beams away, and sent an April shower to bless the earth!"