A moment when the two main characters of Bronte’s less well known novel get to know each other.  Shirley, newly arrived, proposes a day in the woods to Caroline, who knows the land and the calendar of its changes in minute detail, a mental map she is happy to unfold for her new friend.  Together they plan a perfect day of companionship in a quiet place of beauty.  

“We will go – you and I alone, Caroline – to that wood early some fine summer morning, and spend a long day there.  We can take pencils and sketch-books and any interesting reading-book we like, and of course we shall take something to eat.  I have two little baskets in which Mrs. Gill, my housekeeper, might pack our provisions, and we could each carry our own.  It would not tire you too much to walk so far?”


“Oh, no; especially if we rested the whole day in the wood, and I know all the pleasantest spots; I know where we could get nuts in nutting time, I know where wild strawberries abound, I known certain lonely, quite untrodden glades, carpeted with strange mosses, some yellow as if gilded, some a sober grey, some gem-green.  I know groups of trees that ravish the eye with their perfect, picture-like effects: rude oak, delicate birch, glossy beech, clustered in contrast; and ash trees stately as Saul, standing isolated, and superannuated wood-giants, clads in bright shrounds of ivy.  Miss Keeldar, I could guide you.”

Source: Charlotte Bronte, Shirley (London: Collins, 1968), p. 176

Photo credit: Tim Hill at pixabay


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