Fragrance in Literature-Five Nights, by Victoria Cross

Fragrance in Literature-Five Nights, by Victoria Cross

On this afternoon a sort of rapture fell upon us both as we went down
that winding road. The call of the cuckoo resounded from side to side,
clear and sonorous like a bell, it echoed and re-echoed across our
path under the luminous dome of the tranquil sky and over the hedges
of flowering thorn, snow-white and laden with fragrance.

After tea we went out to explore our new and temporarily acquired
territory, and found there was another flower garden at the side of
the house. This, like the one in front, was hedged round with lilac
laden with glorious blossom of all shades, from deepest purple through
all the degrees of mauve to white. Every here and there the line was
broken by a May-tree just bursting into bloom that thrust its pink or
white buds through the lilac. A narrow path paved with large, uneven,
moss-covered stone flags led down the centre and on through a little
wicket gate into the kitchen garden beyond, so that altogether there
was quite an extensive walk through the three gardens, all
flower-lined and sweetly fragrant. We passed slowly along the path
down to the extreme end of the kitchen garden where there was a seat
under a broad-leaved fig-tree. By the side of the seat stood an old
pump, handle and spout shaded by a vine that half trained and half of
its own will trailed and gambolled up the old red brick garden wall. A
flycatcher perched on the pump handle and thrilled out its gay
irresponsible song.

When we retraced our steps the whole garden was bathed in rosy light
and the lilac stood out in it curiously and poured forth a wonderful,
heavy fragrance as we passed.

When we reached our room, the window was wide open as we had left it
and the room seemed full of soft violet gloom, heavy with fragrance of
the lilac that shewed its pale mauve stars through the shadows.

"Treevor, Treevor," came in Suzee's voice; and I bent over the little
scarlet bundle, lifted her up, and pressed my lips on her hair. It
smelt of roses, just as it had done in the tea-shop at Sitka, and
carried me back there on the wings of its fragrance, as scents alone
can do.

That night I could not sleep. The window stood open, and the room was
filled with the soft mysterious twilight of the summer night with its
thousand wandering perfumes, its tiny sounds of bats and whirring
wings.

The cherry bloom thrust its long, white, scented arms into the room. I
lay looking towards the white square of the window wide-eyed and
thinking.

When I arrived in San Francisco, it was one of those strange days when
the sea-fog comes in to visit the town. It rolled in great thick
billows down the streets from the sand dunes, obscuring everything,
damping everything, filling the air with the salt scent of the open
sea.

As she bent near us over the little table a strange sensation of
delight came over me, a faint scent of roses reached me from the
little buds behind her ear. The blue stones in the long gold earrings
swung against her neck of cream as she set out the tea things.

So curtains were really white! how strange it seemed. In town they are
always grey or brown, and the air was light and thin with a sweet
scent, and the sky was blue!!!

It was six o'clock, the light was mellowing, and a thrush singing with
all its own wonderful passion and rapture on the lawn. The scent of
the lilac, intensely sweet, came in at the window and filled the room.

The next day was delicious, too, and the next, but on the fourth we
were quite ready to go. We had drained the cup of joy which that
particular place held for us and it had no more to offer. The
cherry-tree pleased us still, but it did not give us the ecstatic
thrill of the first view of it. The lilac scent streamed in, but it
did not go to the head and intoxicate us as when we came straight from
the air of Waterloo; the thrush gurgled as passionately on the deep
green lawn, but the gurgle did not stir the blood. All was the same,
only the strange spell of novelty was gone.


We passed through a narrow, little hall smelling of new oilcloth into
a fair-sized room which possessed one of the casements we had seen
from outside and through which came the white glow and scent of the
cherry bloom and the song of a thrush.

I went on slowly, and after a time found myself close to the church
again. I went in, for the interior interested me, and found service
was being held. A Russian priest, wholly in white clothing, stood
before the altar, the cross light from the aisle windows falling on
the long twist of fair hair that lay upon his shoulders. The whole air
was full of incense that rose in white clouds to the domed roof. I sat
down near the door and listened while the priest intoned a Latin hymn.
The figure of the young priest at the altar attracted me. I thought I
should like a sketch of it; but I hesitated to take one of him in the
church, even surreptitiously, so I fixed the picture of him as he
stood there on my eyes as far as I could, and then, in a convenient
pause of the service, quietly slipped outside.