"She was as slim and lithe as a young white-stemmed birch-tree; her hair was like a soft dusky cloud, and her eyes were as blue as Avonlea Harbor in a fair twilight, when all the sky is a-bloom over it." Sentiment with a humorous touch to it prevails in the first two stories of the present book. The one relates to the disappearance of a valuable white Persian cat with a blue spot in its tail.
A cluster of white-stemmed birches just ahead of them caught whatever light was still left in the atmosphere, their feathery tops bending and swaying against the sky. 'How easily, with mind attuned, one could people this whole path with ghosts! said Robert. 'Look at those stems, and that line of stream coming down to the right, and listen to the wind among the fern.
Suddenly a huge pine, root and branch, came sailing past, followed by a white-stemmed aspen tree, its spreading branches thick with buds which had swelled from being so long in the water. Close upon the trees came a little hay shed, bottom upward; it was still full of hay and straw, and floated on its roof like a boat on its keel.
For the first time I began to think Saskatchewan beautiful, with those far-reaching parklike meadows dotted with the white-stemmed poplars, the distant bluffs bannered with the airiest of purple hazes, and the little blue lakes that sparkled and shimmered in the sunlight on every hand.
The declivity was clothed sparsely with hazel shrubs, thorns, whins and thistles; and now and then a stunted fir or rowan tree or a group of white-stemmed birks was stoutly rooted on a shelving ledge. Had any one, the visitors asked, ever escaped down this wild crag? Yes, Queen Margaret's children, the guide answered.
It ran down a bare hill, crossed a little ravine full of young white-stemmed birches, and up another bare hill to an equally bare crest where a farmhouse was perched a farmhouse painted a stark, staring yellow and the ugliest thing in farmhouses that John Lincoln had ever seen, even among the log shacks of the west.
On every side the robins shouted their joy from the treetops, the bob-o'-links tinkled their fairy bells as they wheeled above the clover-fields; and from the dainty line of white-stemmed birches that guarded the stream came the mingled even-song of the frogs and the veeries. There was but one pedestrian on Champlain's Road this quiet evening.
It does not look like an inlet of the sea, but suggests rather a tranquil, winding river, shut in by high, steep ramparts of greenery, with here and there an opening to a beautiful lateral cove, where the dark masses of chaparral are relieved by clumps of graceful, white-stemmed palms and lighted up by the solid sheets of bright-red flowers which hide the foliage of the flamboyam, or flame-tree.
She had the eyes of one who always had a song in her heart blue as a mist, those eyes were. She had dark lashes, and a little red mouth that quivered when she was very sad or very happy like a crimson rose too rudely shaken by the wind. She was as slim and lithe as a young, white-stemmed birch tree. How I loved her! How happy we were!
Oh the summer days, with the hot sun drawing the odours from the feathery larches and the white-stemmed birches, when, getting out of the water, I would lie in the warm soft grass, where now and then the tenderest little breeze would creep over my skin, until the sun baking me more than was pleasant, I would rouse myself with an effort, and running down to the fringe of rushes that bordered the full-brimmed river, plunge again headlong into the quiet brown water, and dabble and swim till I was once more weary!