Fragrance in Literature-The Riddle Of The Rocks, by Charles Egbert Craddock

The Riddle Of The Rocks, by
Charles Egbert Craddock


"Waal—" she paused as she knelt down to feed the fire, holding-the fragrant chips in her hand; the flame flickered out and lighted up her reflective eyes while she endeavored to express the distinction she felt: "Purdee's words don't sound ter me like the words of a man sech ez men be."
Grinnell wrinkled his brows, trying to follow her here.
"They sound ter me like the words spoke in a dream—the pernouncings of a vision." Mrs. Grinnell fancied that she too had a gift of Biblical phraseology. "They sound ter me like things I hearn whenst I war a-hungered arter righteousness an' seekin' religion, an' bided alone in the wilderness a-waitin' o' the Sperit."

She remembered an old barn-burning, in the days when she and her husband were newly married, at his father's house. She looked up at the barn hard by, on a line with the dwelling, with that tenderness which one feels for a thing, not because of its value, but for the sake of possession, for the kinship with the objects that belong to the home. A cat was sitting high in a crevice in the logs where the daubing had fallen out; the moon glittered in its great yellow eyes. A frog was leaping along the open space about the rude step at Augusta's feet. A clump of mullein leaves, silvered by the light, spangled by the dew, hid him presently. What an elusive glistening gauze hung over the valley far below, where the sense of distance was limited by the sense of sight!—for it was here only that the night, though so brilliant, must attest the incomparable lucidity of daylight. She could not even distinguish, amidst those soft sheens of the moon and the dew, the Lombardy poplar that grew above the door of old Squire Grove's house down in the cove; in the daytime it was visible like a tiny finger pointing upward. How drowsy was the sound of the katydid, now loudening, now falling, now fainting away! And the tree-toad shrilled in the dog-wood tree. The frogs, too, by the river in iterative fugue sent forth a song as suggestive of the margins as the scent of the fern, and the mint, and the fragrant weeds.

The moon, splendid, a lustrous white encircled by a great halo of translucent green, swung high above the duskily purple mountains. Below in the valleys its progress was followed by an opalescent gossamer presence that was like the overflowing fulness, the surplusage, of light rather than mist. The shadows of the great trees were interlaced with dazzling silver gleams. The night was almost as bright as the day, but cool and dank, full of sylvan fragrance and restful silence and a romantic liberty.

A shadow seemed to have fallen into the moral atmosphere as the gentle dusk came early on. One had a sense as if bereft, remembering that so short a time ago at this hour the sun was still high, and that the full-pulsed summer day throbbed to a climax of color and bloom and redundant life. Now, the scent of harvests was on the air; in the stubble of the sorghum patch she saw a quail's brood more than half-grown, now afoot, and again taking to wing with a loud whirring sound. The perfume of ripening muscadines came from the bank of the river. The papaws hung globular among the leaves of the bushes, and the persimmons were reddening.