At a short distance from Bussang, a little town in the Department des Vosges in France, is the source of the Moselle; trickling through the moss and stones that, together with fallen leaves, strew the ground, come the first few drops of this beautiful river.
A few yards lower down the hill-side, these drops are received into a little pool of fairy dimensions; this tiny pool of fresh sweet water is surrounded by mossy stones, wild garlic, ferns, little creepers of many forms, and stems of trees.
The trees, principally pine, grow thickly over the whole ballon (as the hills are here called); many are of great size; they shut out the heat of the sun, and clothe the earth with tremulous shadows—tremulous, because the broad but feathery ferns receive bright rays, and waving to and fro in the gentle breeze give the shadows an appearance of constant movement.
Here, then, O reader, let us pause and contemplate the birth-place of our stream; leaving the world of stern reality, let us plunge together into the grateful spring of sweet romance; and while the only sounds of life that reach our ears are the rustling of the leaves, the buzz of the great flies, the murmur of the Moselle, and the distant ringing of the woodman’s axe, let us return with Memory into the past, and leaving even her behind, go back to those legendary days when spirits purer than ourselves lived and gloried in that beautifully created world which we are daily rendering all unfit for even the ideal habitation of such spirits.
And reverie is not idleness; in hours like these we seem to see before us, cleared from the mists of daily cares, the better path through life—the broad straight path, not thorny and difficult, as men are too prone to paint it, but strewed with those flowers and shaded with those trees given by a beneficent Creator to be enjoyed rightly by us earthly pilgrims.
Life is a pilgrimage indeed, but not a joyless one. While the whole earth and sky teem with glory and beauty, are we to believe that these things may not be enjoyed? Our conscience answers, No; rightly to enjoy, and rightly to perform our duties, with thankfulness, and praise, and love within our hearts, such is our part to perform, and such the lesson we are taught by the fairy of the sweet Moselle.