Jane Eyre HTML version

Chapter 23
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
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 garden.
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
hill-peak, and extending high and wide, soft and still softer, over half heaven. The
east had its own charm or fine deep blue, and its own modest gem, a casino 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 handbreadth; 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 ripening fruit. I hear a nightingale warbling in a wood half a mile off; no
moving form is visible, no coming step audible; but that perfume increases: I
must flee. I make for the wicket leading to the shrubbery, and I see Mr.
Rochester entering. I step aside into the ivy recess; he will not stay long: he will
soon return whence he came, and if I sit still he will never see me.
But no--eventide is as pleasant to him as to me, and this antique garden as
attractive; and he strolls on, now lifting the gooseberry- tree branches to look at
the fruit, large as plums, with which they are laden; now taking a ripe cherry from