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A SPLENDID Midsummer shone over England: skies so pure, suns
so radiant as were then seen in long succession, seldom favour
even singly, our wave-girt land. It was as if a band of Italian days
had come from the South, like a flock of glorious passenger birds,
and lighted to rest them on the cliffs of Albion. The hay was all got
in; the fields round Thornfield were green and shorn; the roads
white and baked; the trees were in their dark prime; hedge and
wood, full-leaved and deeply tinted, contrasted well with the
sunny hue of the cleared meadows between.
On Midsummer-eve, Adele, weary with gathering wild
strawberries in Hay Lane half the day, had gone to bed with the
sun. I watched her drop asleep, and when I left her, I sought the
It was now the sweetest hour of the twenty-four:- ‘Day its fervid
fires had wasted,’ and dew fell cool on panting plain and scorched
summit. Where the sun had gone down in simple state-pure of the
pomp of clouds-spread a solemn purple, burning with the light of
red jewel and furnace flame at one point, on one hillpeak, and
extending high and wide, soft and still softer, over half heaven.
The east had its own charm of fine deep blue, and its own modest
gem, a rising and solitary star: soon it would boast the moon; but
she was yet beneath the horizon.
I walked a while on the pavement; but a subtle, well-known scent-
that of a cigar-stole from some window; I saw the library casement
open a hand-breadth; I knew I might be watched thence; so I went
apart into the orchard. No nook in the grounds more sheltered and
more Eden-like; it was full of trees, it bloomed with flowers: a very
high wall shut it out from the court, on one side; on the other, a
beech avenue screened it from the lawn. At the bottom was a sunk
fence; its sole separation from lonely fields: a winding walk,
bordered with laurels and terminating in a giant horse-chestnut,
circled at the base by a seat, led down to the fence.
Here one could wander unseen. While such honey-dew fell, such
silence reigned, such gloaming gathered, I felt as if I could haunt
such shade for ever; but in threading the flower and fruit parterres
at the upper part of the enclosure, enticed there by the light the
now rising moon cast on this more open quarter, my step is stayed-
not by sound, not by sight, but once more by a warning fragrance.
Sweet-briar and southernwood, jasmine, pink, and rose have long
been yielding their evening sacrifice of incense: this new scent is
neither of shrub nor flower; it is-I know it well-it is Mr.
Rochester’s cigar. I look round and I listen. I see trees laden with