"By gum, this town's a daisy," said the stranger, sniffing the honey-laden breeze appreciatively and glancing out over the sea of wild flowers that waved and shimmered under the California sun; "nice quiet little place eh?" "Thee hears all the noise there is," answered Enoch gravely.
The bees are silent, for the honey-laden flowers of the sycamore are gone and in their place hang dainty two-fold keys. The poplar has lost its metallic shimmer, the chestnut its tall white candles; and the sound of the wind in the fully-leaved branches is like the sighing of the sea.
I turned back, therefore, thinking of the honey-laden tree that some of these forests would hold before the falling of the leaf. I heard of a youth in the neighborhood more lucky than myself on a like occasion.
From the south wind that breathed a century and a half ago over the green wheat. From the perfume of the growing grasses waving over honey-laden clover and laughing veronica, hiding the greenfinches, baffling the bee. From rose-loved hedges, woodbine, and cornflower azure-blue, where yellowing wheat-stalks crowd up under the shadow of green firs.
How many aerial voyages might they have made, in quest of honey, or honey-laden, betwixt dawn and sunset! Yet, late as it now was, there still arose a pleasant hum out of one or two of the squash-blossoms, in the depths of which these bees were plying their golden labor.
He rode up to the dark figure: it was an old rotten post, the relic of some shed. From Koltovitch's copse and garden there came a strong fragrant scent of lilies of the valley and honey-laden flowers. Pyotr Mihalitch rode along the bank of the pond and looked mournfully into the water.
Fish rose in the river; birds sang in the trees; a water-wagtail skipped nimbly from rock to rock in the shallows; honey-laden bees hummed past to the many hives in the postmaster's garden. These were the normal sights and sounds of a June morning that which was abnormal and almost grotesque in its horror lay hidden beneath the carriage rug.
They sit on the telephone wires and try to make you listen to their pathetic and scarcely discernible song, and as you sit on the seats at the Tavern, if you happen to have some bright colored object about you, especially red, they will flit to and fro eagerly seeking for the honey-laden flower that red ought to betoken. Several times down Truckee Canyon I have seen wild canaries.
Mayhap in that strange district you come from you keep count of these things, but what have we to do with either when their initial duty is done. Look at that painted butterfly swinging on the honey-laden catkin there. What knows she of the mother who shed her life into a flowercup and forgot which flower it was the minute afterwards. We, too, are insects, stranger."
The Sharksfin Lighthouse is built on a sharp high rock two miles out at sea. I have watched it from Bleak Point on a bright, warm summer's day, when the promontory around me was all ablaze with purple heather and golden gorse, and there was not breeze enough to shake the wing of the butterfly as it rested on the blue-bell, or disturb the honey-laden bee as it murmured in the thyme.