Their grain-fields, their fruit-orchards, their vegetable-gardens are trim and orderly, and they make an excellent wine, which they call "The Treasure of Zion." Their effect upon the landscape, however, is conventional. But in spite of the presence and prosperity of the Templers, the spirit of the scene through which we passed was essentially Oriental.
So the little girl, in two winks, had her under one arm and was on her way to the carnelian bluff. It was a hot, sultry day in midsummer, and not a breath of wind was blowing over the farm. The grain-fields were still. The blades of the corn drooped limply. The creamy sap of the milkweed growing in the timothy meadow was drying up in the stem.
Then one dart of the long bill captures froggy, and the heron waits for another. You know the red-head, green mallard, canvas-back, and small teal ducks, no doubt, and have seen the flocks of wild geese flying and calling in the sky, or standing like patches of snow as they feed in the marshes or grain-fields.
The increase of this mission has been very great, although it requires arduous labors on the part of the fathers, who have been obliged to go forth among mountains and rugged cliffs seemingly inaccessible; for they go to seek the people in their huts and grain-fields, where it seems as if the devil, in order to deprive them of instruction and gospel truth, had persuaded them to seek wild and rugged places which can be reached only with the greatest difficulty.
They were sedentary and metropolitan people dwellers in towns not nomads; they had cattle and fowls, orchards and grain-fields, gardens for vegetables, corrals for breeding stock. They had many towns some even of two hundred houses, of which dwellings many were cellared, framed, and glazed.
Blinding sheets of rain drove the cattle to the bars, and beat against the window-pane as if to dash it in. The corn-fields crouched in the fury, and the ripened grain-fields threw their crowns of gold at the feet of the storm-king. After the night shut in, it was a double night.
In these days of fatted cattle and waving grain-fields this humble root, which was once the totem of an Indian tribe, is quite forgotten, or known only by its flowering vine; but let wild Nature reign here once more, and the tender and luxurious English grains will probably disappear before a myriad of foes, and without the care of man the crow may carry back even the last seed of corn to the great cornfield of the Indian's God in the southwest, whence he is said to have brought it; but the now almost exterminated ground-nut will perhaps revive and flourish in spite of frosts and wildness, prove itself indigenous, and resume its ancient importance and dignity as the diet of the hunter tribe.
The grain-fields had a chilled, struggling appearance; the forests forsook the mountain-sides and throve only in sheltered spots at their bases; the houses were mere log cabins, many of which were slipping off their foundation-posts and tottering to their final fall; and the people, poorer than ever, came out of their huts to beg openly and shamelessly as we passed.
In those days there were none of the yellow grain-fields, the old mansions surrounded by groves, the bustling villages and towns which now mark the scene, but nature had done her best to make it picturesque and beautiful, and the youthful visitors enjoyed it as only those of young blood can.
It had been a warm morning; an unusual mist, which the sun had not dissipated, had crept on from the great grain-fields beyond, and hung around the house charged with a dry, dusty closeness that seemed to be quite independent of the sun's rays, and more like a heated exhalation or emanation of the soil itself.