But what a sin it seems to be walking on these flowers as we are now doing! In default, however, of a path, and in presence of such profusion, there is no other way of proceeding; we are constrained, moreover, to be 'walking, like Agag, "delicately." And here we are at the gully; and there, in the crevices of the rocks to the right, are a number of the yellow Alpine Auricula (Primula auricula), in company with a rosy band of the little Erinus alpinus. This Auricula, true representative of the Alpine flora, and prime parent of many of our garden Auriculas, is seemingly one of the few plants of which the Swiss mountain peasants take much notice, besides, of course, such herbs and flowers as they gather for medicinal purposes. Upon the roof of many a cowshed and chalet may be seen clumps of this favoured one, growing in some old soap-box or biscuit-tin - generally of English extraction.

Now, turning abruptly to the left, and descending into the gully, we find in the moist, sandy debris forming its bed quantities of the white Alpine Cress (Hutschinsia alpina), blooming among rich green clumps, scarcely yet in flower, of the golden Stonecrop Saxifrage (Saxifraga aizoides); and all along the gulley's sunny side are widespread, vivid masses of the rosy-red Rock Soapwort (Saponaria ocymoides). In profusion everywhere, but doing best on the damp and shady side, is Micheli's Daisy, the long-stalked Bellidiastrum Michelii. The blue-grey Globularia cordifolia is also here, carpeting the dried ground above; while, tucked in and about the base of the boulders over which we are scrambling, we notice, though not as yet in bloom, quantities of the yellow-green plants of the lovely Golden Marguerite (Aronicum scorpioides). Here, too, nestling plentifully with the Parsley Fern, is that fascinating little Yellow Violet (Viola biflora), looking, as always, so deliciously fresh, as if both flower and foliage had just been washed by rain.

We are now nearing the pine forest, and we had best leave the gully and 'make tracks' across the Anemone and Gentian decked slopes until we strike our path. As we clamber up the gulley's side, and just at its crest, there is a close, overhanging growth of Mountain Avens (Dryas octo-petala), a truly arresting object, clothed as it is in a purity of white and gold. Further on, as we traverse the slopes, we come upon the dense, mossy mounds of the Cushion Pink (Silene acaulis), radiant with their tiny pink blossoms. And here and there, just on the outskirts of the forest's sombre shade, is Erica carnea, the Alpine Heath, earliest of spring's mountain wonders; not now, it is true, in perfection, but lingering, as it were, to welcome us ere we descend to our hotel.

This, as has already been stated, is but an impressionist sketch, a broad and general survey of a scene which any language or any pen is, at best, inadequate to describe. The only way is to see it for oneself, and to see it again, and then again. A visit such as the one we have just paid to Nature's own garden is bound to entail a second visit, and a third and fourth; and at each successive visit the scene will be found modified in some respect. Spring is a rapid season in the Alps. Each day makes for some important change. If in a week's time we revisit the scene we have just quitted, we shall be amazed at the quick transformation of many of its details. The foliage of the plants will have developed, the grass will have grown most markedly, and the erstwhile dense carpets of rosy Primula and blue Gentian will have lost in consequence much of their vivid pristine purity. The flowers of the Anemone will be turning rusty brown, and will be falling, giving place (in the case of alpina) to the beautiful feathery seed-heads, and the Crocus and Soldanella will have altogether disappeared. But this does not mean that the ravishing and prolific reign of colour will be on the verge of ending; it merely means that other beauties, equally profuse, equally colourfull, will be replacing those that are passing. Orchids will be springing up everywhere in varieties according to the ground and situation. On the more level, marshy stretch, where was the Primula farinosa, will be Orchis sambucina, the Elder-smelling Orchis, varying from pale yellow to deep blood-red; on the slopes, where was Anemone alpina, will be the sweet-scented Gymnadenia odoratissima and G. conopea, together with the red and lilac Orchis globosa; while almost everywhere will be appearing the curiously dark, claret-coloured heads of the Vanilla Orchid (Nigritella angustifolia). On the slopes, too, there will be hosts of the graceful paper-white sprays of St. Bruno's or Paradise Lily (Paradisia Liliastrum); while the rocks will be creamy-white with a wealth of Saxifraga Aizoon, one of the loveliest of Saxifrages. No; spring has no lack of successive substitutes. It is only when Crepis aurea, the sienna-red Dandelion or Golden Hawksbeard, begins to appear, and summer is hurriedly commencing, that spring's ubiquity and profusion of purest, freshest colour begins to wane.

As has been said, there are many resorts in the Alps where these delights of spring are at the very door - instance the Col de la Forclaz, above Martigny, in the Rhone Valley. Here, although it is about 4,500 feet up, or about 1,500 feet higher than Champery and Chateau-d'Cex, one can, if the season be normal, comfortably sojourn towards the beginning or middle of May, and for those who wish to be living on the very threshold of Alpine spring life few places can be more desirable. From the very windows of the hotel (the proprietor of which, by the way, once had the honour of carrying Queen Alexandra, then Princess of Wales, across freshly-fallen snow on the Col de Balme) one can look out upon slopes teeming with the large sulphur-yellow Anemone (Anemone sulfurea), here growing in such manner as to give strength to the doubts expressed in some quarters as to whether this Anemone is really a separate species, or only a granitic form of A. Alpina; for on these slopes are some white-flowered forms as well as many which are but slightly suffused with yellow, and the backs of the sepals have some of the blue tinge which is characteristic of alpina. On these slopes, too, if one strolls out, as one may, after breakfast, will be found quantities of Gentiana Kochiana and verna; also the blue, white, and pink Hepatica, on the fringe of the forest which crowns the slopes; also the Box-leaved Milkwort (Polygala Chamoebuxus) and its little blue relative, P. alpestris; also the deep, rich blue Veronica saocatilis, the graceful Thesiurn alpinurti, the golden Genista sagittalis and Hippocrepis comosa, the curious Moonwort (Botrychium lunaria), the Mountain Cudweed (Antennaria dioica), and many another gem growing amongst bushes of the Alpine Rose - not the Alpenrose or Rhododendron, but the true Rosa alpina, the rose without a thorn. And these slopes, as soon as the Anemone is passing, will be crowded with Orchids in six or seven varieties, all in flower with the Rose.

Primula Farinosa, The Oxlip And Marsh Marigold, With The Argentine In The Background. Les Plans. April

Primula Farinosa, The Oxlip And Marsh Marigold, With The Argentine In The Background. Les Plans. April.

On the other side of the hotel, covering a picturesque pasture belonging partly to Martigny, there is a profuse and varied flora, in many respects differing from that just described. Here one will find Soldanella alpina and Gentiana verna, together with Micheli's Daisy, the Bell-Gentian, that curious Alpine Coltsfoot, Homogyne alpina, and the little brown-and-green Frog Orchid, growing in great quantity among the Bilberries and Strawberries, and presently to be replaced by St. Bruno's Lily, Arnica, and a perfect sea of other flowers. And the lawn-like turf of the pasture proper is a veritable joy, with the purple Viola, the Antennaria, the little Star-Gentian {Gentiana nivalis), the Rock Rose, the small canary-yellow Dandelion, the Bell-Gentian, the Vernal Gentian (of which there are white, lilac, and Cambridge-blue forms), and the striking pagodalike pyramids of the Alpine Bugle (Ajuga pyra-midalis), coloured so aesthetically with brown-madder and blue. Of pure luxury one could desire nothing more; for one may stroll out and feast whenever the spirit dictates - in the heat of the day, when the call of the Cuckoo is echoing through the pine forests and the Robin-like note of the Redstart comes cheerfully from some rustic fence or heap of stones, or in the cool of the evening, when the Blackbird is singing amid the golden showers of the wild Laburnum, the Ghost Moth is performing its strange, giddy dance over the Anemones, Geraniums, and Grasses, and the lovely Glacier des Grands is rosy tinted with the 'afterglow. One can pass the sunny days in luxurious dreaming' on one's back in a bed of Rhododendrons' - for the Rhododendron is here - dreaming until the dinner-bell breaks in upon one's reveries, and calls one to a repast more mortal and substantial.

But dreaming of what? Dreaming of the flowers, and of beyond the flowers? For the effect of their beauty is to translate one far above their beauty. Material as they are, unsentimental as is their existence, they render one doubly immaterial and doubly sentimental.

But dreaming of what? Dreaming of the time when the cattle will be here, eating off this crop of Alpine loveliness? Perhaps. For, with June, the day will soon arrive when the cattle-bells will chime in all their fascinating discord over these selfsame pastures, and then good-bye to the flowers hereabouts, except in out-of-reach nooks and corners. What the cows do not eat off the goats will nibble down, and where the animals are not allowed to wander the peasant comes with his scythe and makes his hay. Then, for the flowers, one must go away, up higher - up on the last steep, grassy slopes, and up around the glaciers. There, to be sure, will one find fresh wonders, but nothing to compare in abundance of pure colour with the wonders of the spring.

And - oh, the pity of it! - at this late season it is, when the cattle and the scythe have gained disastrous footing, that the majority of visitors arrive. And when, after their holiday, they return home, they do so thinking they have tasted of the chiefest glories of the Alps. Oh, Ignorance! sometimes, maybe, thy name spells bliss, but only, mark ye, sometimes!