Basil and Annette by B L Farjeon Page 1 of 468

BASIL AND ANNETTE.

CHAPTER I.
In the old world the reign of winter has commenced. The woods are snow-white, the hedges are frosted over, the pools are frozen, icicles hang from the branches of the trees.

Wayfarers walk briskly, stamp their feet, and beat their hands to keep the circulation going; while other humans, whom business does not call from their houses, snuggle round the fireside, with doors and windows closed to keep out the nipping air.

Winged immigrants that came in the sweet spring days have long since taken their departure to warmer climes, bearing with them memories of a bright youth, to be renewed when another spring smiles upon the land. In the new world, at the same moment, it is nature's holiday time.


The air is scented with the fragrance of white lilies and jessamine; fringed violets carpet the woods; the wild passion fruit, with its gleaming scarlet flowers, illuminates the bushes; the palm-tree rears its graceful head above festoons of feathery leaves, in which clumps of red berries shine like clusters of stars; tall quandong-trees and wild plums shoot up straight as arrows, for the most part clear of vines and creepers, but not always successful in escaping the embrace of the stag's horn fern, one of the handsomest of all Australia's parasites; and the white-wooded umbrella-tree proudly asserts its claim to preeminence, with its darkly lustrous laurel-shaped leaves surmounted by long radiating spikes of crimson flowers, the brilliancy of which rivals the glowing sunset of the South.



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