Down in the orchard, all the day,
The apples ripened and dropped away;
Tawny, and yellow, and red they fell,
Filling the air with a spicy smell.
There were purple grapes on the alders low,
But the jays had gathered them long ago:
And the merry children had plundered well,
Hedge, and thicket, and hazel dell.
But the sturdy chestnuts over the hill
Guarded their prickly caskets still,
And laughed in scorn at the wind and rain,
Beating their burly limbs in vain.
"Hush!" said the frost. "If you'll hold your breath
Till hill and valley are still as death
I will whisper a spell that shall open wide
The caskets green where the treasures hide."
The rain sank down and the wind was still,
And the world was wrapped in the moonlight chill;
And a faint white mist, like a ghost, was seen
Creeping over the valley green.
Over the roofs of the sleeping town,
Over the hillsides, bare and brown;
Field, and meadow, and wood were crossed
By the shining trail of the silver frost.
Close at the door of each guarded cell
He breathed the words of his wonderful spell,
And the bristling lances turned aside
And every portal flew open wide.
Up sprang the wind with a loud "Ho! ho!"
And scattered the treasures to and fro:
And the children shouted, "Come away!
There is sport in the chestnut woods to-day."