A beautiful October morning it was; one of those in which Dame Nature, healthily tired with the revelry of summer, is composing herself, with a quiet satisfied smile, for her winter's sleep. Sheets of dappled cloud were sliding slowly from the west; long bars of hazy blue hung over the southern chalk downs, which gleamed pearly gray beneath the low south- eastern sun. In the vale below, soft white flakes of mist still hung over the water meadows, and barred the dark trunks of the huge elms and poplars, whose fast-yellowing leaves came showering down at every rustle of the western breeze, spotting the grass below. The river swirled along, glassy no more, but dingy gray with autumn rains and rotting leaves. All beyond the garden told of autumn, bright and peaceful even in decay; but up the sunny slope of the garden itself, and to the very window-sill, summer still lingered. The beds of red verbena and geranium were still brilliant, though choked with fallen leaves of acacia and plane; the canary plant, still untouched by frost, twined its delicate green leaves, and more delicate yellow blossoms, through the crimson lace- work of the Virginia creeper; and the great yellow noisette swung its long canes across the window, filling all the air with fruity fragrance.
Two Years Ago, chap. i.