On the day when my story begins, the house in the wood was the only lifeless thing, or so it seemed, in the whole joyous little scene. It was a day in early May, and the world was so delighted with itself that it laughed and twinkled all over. The trees were hardly yet in full leaf, but had the gray-green misty look of spring, that makes one see Erl-König's daughters shimmering in every willow, and rustling out of sight behind the white birch-trunks. The great buttonwood had put out its leaves, covered with thick white down; the air was full of sweet smells, for it had rained in the night, and wet leaves, pine needles, new ferns, and a hundred other lovely awakening things, made the air a life giving ether. The little green was starred with anemones and eyebrights; under the cool of the trees one might see other things glimmering, exquisite shadowy forms,—hepaticas, were they, or fairies in purple and gray fur? One felt the presence of mayflowers, though one could not see them unless one went close and pulled away the brown dry leaves; then the lovely rosy creatures would peep out and laugh, as only mayflowers can when they play at hide and seek.