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place everything for the treat that was given to the school children at Christmas?"
"Well, I really think he is a very kind man, and so clever, too! and I am very glad he is coming to Leighside.'
In this opinion all the boys joined, in spite of the fear of hard lessons. To Emily also the near neighbourhood of the Grays was a pleasure. The little children were her delight, and Mrs. Gray was a person sure to win love; and often she had a young sister with her, older than Emily, but young enough to be a pleasant companion to her. Little Augusta Leslie, too, was pleased with the idea of having Minnie Gray, a bright little child, three years old, to play with. Freddy Neville had an idea, "the more the merrier," so he approved, though he did not take so much interest in the subject as the older boys.
In the course of the month, the Grays were settled at Leighside, and everything showed the good taste and wise order of the inhabitants. Henceforth they will be found mixed up with the families at the Grange and the Hall.
April began as March had ended, with a few days of fine sunny weather. But then came a chilling change; frost again, and a keen wind, true blackthorn winter, as if the plum and cherry blossoms could not force open their buds without the aid of these blustering gales. The children drew their seats to the table near the fire again, and
little Brownie, the dormouse, instead of waking up every evening, took long naps. When he did rouse himself and nibble a few nuts, or a little apple, he soon finished his meal, and rolled himself up in his warm nest again. The boys, when they were out of doors, were obliged to run and stamp to keep themselves warm. The poor birds, whose nest-building had begun, seemed much disturbed by this change of weather; and the rooks, with their large loosely-built nests, found it no small trouble to keep up their repairs. Many a large stick was torn away by the wind, and whirled to the ground, and many smaller ones were sadly displaced. The noisy builders often found it difficult to keep their perch on the rocking branches of the tall trees. What with the wind, and what with the cawing, there was no small stir in the rookery.
In time the weather softened, and there were April showers followed by bright sunshine and gentle breezes. The birds sang, the flowers unfolded, the lambs frolicked in the pastures, and a spirit of hope and joy seemed spread abroad over the land. The black-cap was in song, and the cuckoo and the whitethroat had been heard; orange-tipped and tortoiseshell butterflies were abroad. The orchards were beginning to show their buds, the horse-chestnuts had opened here there a flower, and the Guelder roses and lilacs. would soon be out.
"And see," said Mr. Leslie, "here is still a late blooming almond.
"It is certainly a lovely shrub, even as we see it in this country; and now the few leaves that are springing out from the branches add to its beauty. On the Continent, however, it grows more luxuriantly. The almond-trees about Geneva are beautiful in early spring. Some years ago, two young Englishmen were walking there, under the guidance of a venerable Professor, who was taking the strangers to some spots he considered best worth their notice. As they passed along a walk, by the side of which the flowering almond-trees were in great beauty, he observed the eyes of the travellers fixed admiringly on them. He was
beneath one of the finest of these trees, when they paused, as they reached a point in the ascending path, to look around them; and, taking off his hat, he pointed to his own snow-white hair, and with a happy smile on his benevolent face, said, "Il fleurit," "It flowers." This simple act carried the thoughts of his companions to the beautiful passage in the last chapter of Ecclesiastes, where the white blossoms of the almond-tree are used to describe the hoary head of age. To that good old man, whose piety was well known, the thought that life was fast passing away brought no gloom; and the cheerful serenity with which he alluded to his advancing age, made a deep impression on the hearts of his young companions, from one of whom I heard the anecdote."
The woods and banks and hedgerows, were now gay with primroses and violets and anemones. The young gardeners found plenty of work in sowing seeds which had not been sown in March ; planting new flower roots; weeding, hoeing, raking. Many flowers were in bloom; jonquils, early tulips, dog's-tooth violets, crown imperials, &c.
It was almost the last day of the month, when a great shouting was heard from the boys.
"Mamma! Mamma! Emily! come out, come out! the swallows are come!" and they danced with joy at the arrival of these summer birds.
They were soon joined by those who welcomed the arrival with as much pleasure as themselves, though a little less noisily. There were the swallows, sure enough, searching into the state of the few nests which had been allowed to remain; repairing those that needed repair, and building new ones. Little time did they give themselves for rest after their long journey. Busily did they fly about, now catching flies and gnats, now bringing materials for their nest-building. In four or five days, it was not merely a few swallows in favoured spots that were seen, but in all parts of the country they were at work preparing for their summer broods. Sometimes they were seen gathered together in clusters in the sun, under the eaves of a barn or a cottage, twittering in the cheerful notes which fall so pleasantly on the ear just after their first arrival, and which Augusta,
Leslie and Freddy Neville imitated as their nurses had taught them in the old rhyme,
"'Twas Michaelmas, 'twas Michaelmas when we went away, And then your barns and ricks were full of corn and hay, But by little bits and little bits, you've riddled it away." "Look," said Mr. Leslie, "here is the hawthorn