432 THE STORY OF THE YEAR
lake, the gnats danced in the sunshine, and yonder on the rock, in the salt heaving sea-water, sat Summer himself—a strong man with sturdy limbs and long dripping hair—there he sat, strengthened by the cool bath, in the warm sunshine. All nature round about was renewed, everything stood luxuriant, strong, and beautiful; it was summer, warm, lovely summer.
And pleasant and sweet was the fragrance that streamed upwards from the rich clover-field, where the bees swarmed round the old ruined place of meeting : the bramble wound itself around the altar stone, which, washed by the rain, glittered in the sunshine ; and thither flew the Queen-bee with her swarm, and prepared wax and honey. Only Summer saw it, he and his strong wife ; for them the altar table stood covered with the offerings of nature.
And the evening sky shone like gold, shone as no church dome can shine ; and in the interval between the evening and the morning red there was moonlight : it was summer.
And days went by, and weeks went by. The bright scythes of the reapers gleamed in the corn-fields ; the branches of the apple trees bent down, heavy with red-and-yellow fruit. The hops smelt sweetly, hanging in large clusters ; and under the hazel bushes, where hung great bunches of nuts, rested a man and woman—Summer and his quiet consort.
1 What wealth !' exclaimed the woman : ' all around a blessing is diffused, everywhere the scene looks homelike and good ; and yet—I know not why—I long for peace and rest—I know not how to express it. Now they are already ploughing again in the field. The people want to gain more and more. See, the storks flock together, and follow at a little distance behind the plough—the bird of Egypt that carried us through the air. Do you remember how we came as children to this land of the North ? We brought with us flowers, and pleasant sunshine, and green to the woods ; the wind has treated them roughly, and they have become dark and brown like the trees of the South, but they do not, like them, bear golden fruit.'
' Do you wish to see the golden fruit ? ' said Summer : ' then rejoice.'
And he lifted his arm, and the leaves of the forest put