The snow had bleached the grass, which glittered like silver in the strong sunlight. A boisterous wind from the North-west drove white-edged clouds across the sky, but the air was soft with a genial warmth that drew earthy smells from the drying sod. In places, an emerald flush had begun to spread across the withered grass and small flowers like crocuses were pushing through.
Willows and alders sheltered it, and if you slipped through without noise and lay very still, you were pretty sure to see a school of trout, for it was their favorite haunt. Once we counted twenty-two there, lying head up-stream, gently fanning their tails and white-edged fins.
Moreover, when two birds belonging to two distinct breeds are crossed, neither of which is blue or has any of the above-specified marks, the mongrel offspring are very apt suddenly to acquire these characters; for instance, I crossed some uniformly white fantails with some uniformly black barbs, and they produced mottled brown and black birds; these I again crossed together, and one grandchild of the pure white fantail and pure black barb was of as beautiful a blue colour, with the white rump, double black wing-bar, and barred and white-edged tail-feathers, as any wild rock-pigeon!
The long, demon-like beast lashed out again, spread on the air as if it were flying, looking something like a dragon, then closing up again, inconceivably powerful and explosive. The man's body, strung to its efforts, vibrated strongly. Then a sudden sharp, white-edged wrath came up in him. Swift as lightning he drew back and brought his free hand down like a hawk on the neck of the rabbit.
From that auspicious opening in the morning when the clouds seemed to dissolve for the express purpose of allowing a fresh-washed sky to enter into the color scheme of the beautiful picture blue dome, chalk-white and sea-green war-ships, green and blue and white-edged little seas until that last moment at night when the last call on the last ship was blown and to its lingering cadence the last unwinking incandescent of the fairy-like illumination was switched off, leaving the hushed and darkened fleet riding to only the necessary anchor lights on the motionless, moon-lit sound who witnessed it all might not doubt the existence of that spirit which in conflict makes for more than thickness of armor or weight of shell.
Then the air is so different from the fog and smoke of London. There is more oxygen in the atmosphere. A pall is lifted. We are led out into sunshine. Fields are red with a scarlet white-edged poppy, or blue with a flower like larkspur. Wheat fields half covered with this unthrifty beauty! But alas! the elasticity is in Nature's works only.
The great stretch of grain blazed with color as it swayed with a harsh rustle of warm-tinted ears before the breeze, but now and then broad cool shadows sped across it as the white-edged clouds drove by. Behind him followed two more teams and machines, half covered by falling sheets of yellow grain, while their whirling wooden arms flashed in the dazzling sunlight as they flung out the sheaves.
But a dull feeling of curiosity made him look up after a while, and as he raised his eyes he saw the flames arch over the house like a crimson, white-edged canopy, for the storm was blowing that way. Then he knew all was lost. He folded his hands. He felt as if he ought to pray. "Mother! mother!" he cried, his eyes full of tears, stretching out his arms to the sky.
Dip from its white-edged ripples, or from its calm heart, or from the foam that breaks over its blue when the wind rouses it to frolic, and you dip what is fit for a baptismal font, you dip purity itself. The purity of nature is the expression of joy, and it is a revelation to us that the Creator's holiness is not repellent and severe.
Heaps of rounded boulders, and the crumbling white-edged mounds which, in these regions, always denote old habitations, run down the right bank of the Wady el-Khandaki to its junction with the Damah. Half an hour more placed us at the great Wady, whose general direction is here west with a little southing, and which still merits its fame as an Arabian Arcadia.