Treasures of Aromatic Literature-Scent in the writings of Rebecca Davis Harding

Treasures of Aromatic Literature-Scent in the writings of Rebecca Davis Harding


If she had done it, she chose her audience badly. For a moment Dallas stood bewildered with the enchantment of color and fragrance, "over-canopied with sweet musk-roses and with eglantine ;" then he pushed his hat back on his head and thrust his hands into his pockets, going about with a puzzled, eager whistle, peering—not at the flowers, but the earth in which they grew. Musk-roses did not belong to November ; and here was the gray moss of the sea-woods, which could not possibly take root in this alluvial soil; and the knobby prickle-bush of the Jersey sands, which never would flower for him, bursting into a glory of red, voluptuous flowers ; and those must be the Japan lilies, and that the famous Espiritu-Santo flower, of which he had read, but never hoped to see. All these in summer bloom in November among the Ohio hills ! As for enchantment, or a possible Titania, that was hardly within the scope of Dallas' brain.
Dallas Galbraith
By Rebecca Harding Davis

Surely there were airy affections, subtle friendlinesses, among these dumb living creatures! They all seemed alive to her, though she was a prosaic woman, who had read little beyond her cookery-book and Bible. It was as though she had come unbidden into Nature's household and interrupted the inmates talking together. The Carolina rose stretched in masses for miles along the road — the very earth seejued to blush with it: here and there a late rhododendron hung out its scarlet banner. The tupelo thrust its white fingers out of the shadow like a maiden's hand, and threw out into the air the very fragrance of the lilies-of-the-valley which used to grow in the garden she made when she was a little girl. The silence was absolute, except when a pheasant rose with a whirr or a mocking-bird sounded its melancholy defiant call in the depths of the forest. Long habit of grief had left her heart tender and its senses keen: these things, which were but game or specimens for the naturalist, were God's creatures to her, and came close to her. Charley woke, and looking up saw her smiling down on him with warm cheeks. She did not know the name of a plant or tree or bird, but she felt the friendliness and welcome of the hills, just as she used to be comforted and lifted nearer to God by distant church music, although she could not hear a word of the hymn.
Silhouettes of American life
By Rebecca Harding Davis

The sun set redly on Ross' holiday; threw cool, broad shadows of the great walnut trees across the grassy slope in front of Nathan's little cottage, where they all had gathered. The far quiet of night brooded in the dulling, melancholy horizon, in the darkening woods, in the drowsy murmur of the distant water courses, a low harvest moon set its crescent in the gray west; but near at hand the crimson light flamed against the windows, the falling dew called out the fragrance of the clover-fields; the birds, whose nests were up in the walnut trees, chirped good night, and woke to chirp it again. Nathan stood beside old Joe, who had his boy asleep on his knee. The mulatto was silent, but his eyes followed Tom and his mother unceasingly, with a hunger yet unsatisfied.
Waiting for the verdict
By Rebecca Harding Davis

This was thirty years ago. You will search now in vain in that neighborhood for the old type of farm and farmer. There are no longer little dairies where the women beat their fragrant butter into shapes, stamp them with their initials, and send them proudly into market. The butter is made by men en masse, in huge creameries, and handled by wooden paddles. The farmers' daughters, if they are well-to-do, are traveling abroad; if they are not, the girls are stenographers or saleswomen in some city.
Bits of gossip
By Rebecca Harding Davis

Joe's wound had been tardy in healing; the bandages were not yet removed. The surgeon adjusted them more slowly than usual, Burley fancied, to-day, after he had heard of Randolph's intended marriage, remaining silent, his small pale face compressed as he bent over the bed. A soft Spring air came in at the open windows, bringing the scent from the apple-orchards and the meadows, blue with wild violets, sloping from the farm-house to the creek below. The sunshine rested on it, broad and warm, the rustle of the trees outside, the hesitating gurgle of the creek over its slaty bed, the chatter of the martins in the eaves, the bleat of the calves in the barn-yard, old Matsy's crooning as she sat knitting on the kitchen door-step, brought the pleasant out-door Spring morning into Joe's cheerful chamber. He watched the shadow of the waving curtains on the white wall and then glanced at Broderip, trying to smother his chagrin at his indifference to Rosslyn's wedding, thinking that "it wur nateral when- a man keered nothin' for wife or children for himself, that them things should seem triflin' for others."
Waiting for the verdict
By Rebecca Harding Davis

Anne, when she fell asleep, was sitting in a hammock on a veranda of the house nearest to the water. The wet bright sea-air blew about her. She had some red roses in her hands, and she crushed them up under her cheek to catch the perfume, thinking drowsily that the colors of the roses and cheek were the same. For she had had great beauty ever since she was a baby, and felt it, as she did her blood, from her feet to her head, and triumphed and was happy in it. She had a wonderful voice too. She was silent now, being nearly asleep. But the air was so cold and pure, and the scent of the roses so strong in the sunshine, and she was so alive and throbbing with youth and beauty, that it seemed to her that she was singing so that all the world could hear, and that her voice rose — rose up and up into the very sky.
Silhouettes of American life
By Rebecca Harding Davis

Presently they sat down to breakfast together. Garrick was at home now, and possessed his soul in comfort, breathing his native air. His training and habits fitted him keenly to appreciate this woman, whom he had long known by tradition, and knew to have come to her inheritance of beauty and esprit in the days of Jefferson and Burr; a grande dame in that keen-witted circle, but who was now only white-haired Abigail Blanchard, misplacing her thees and thous with a piquant stateliness. The simple, subtle grace of a fine manner remained, as the delicate aroma with the dead flower. It made the morning air off from the muddy fields, gay, as well as fresh; it brought out all that was heartsome in the fire, the uncertain lights; it gave to the plain little breakfast the zest of a picnic.
Waiting for the verdict
By Rebecca Harding Davis

It was a cool morning, with soft mists rolling up the hills, and flashes between of sudden sunlight. The air was full of pungent woody smells, and the undergrowth blushed pink with blossoms. There was no look of a cemetery about the place. Here and there, in a shady nook, was a green hillock like a bed, as if some tired traveler had chosen a quiet place for himself and lain down to sleep.

Bits of gossip
By Rebecca Harding Davis